Reported child sexual offences at record levels in the north, according to NSPCC

Reported child sexual offences at record levels in the north, according to NSPCCReported child sexual offences at record levels in the north, according to NSPCC
Reported child sexual offences at record levels in the north, according to NSPCC
New figures compiled by the NSPCC reveal that child sexual offences recorded by the PSNI over the past year are the highest on record in Northern Ireland since the charity started the annual research 16 years ago.

In 2022/23, the PSNI recorded 2,315 sexual offences against children and young people aged under 18.

Types of offences included rape, sexual assault, sexual grooming and sexual exploitation. The highest number of crimes where age was known were perpetrated against 11 to 15-year-olds.

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The PSNI data and figures obtained through Freedom of Information requests sent to police forces throughout the rest of the UK, revealed a total of 86,962 child sexual offences recorded by police across the UK in 2022/23. This remains one of the highest on record for the UK as a whole, since the charity started the annual research in 2007/08.

This comes as the NSPCC launches a new campaign in partnership with the Home Office to tackle child sexual abuse. Together they are encouraging the public to contact the charity’s Helpline if they are concerned that a child could be at risk. The partnership will also encourage people to report on instances where there are concerns that a child might be experiencing sexual abuse.

The Home Office is providing funding for the NSPCC Helpline to increase capacity as well as to raise awareness of the service to the public and professionals.

The NSPCC has also created two films promoting the new campaign. These films show how adults can use the Helpline to share any concerns they may have about a child’s safety or welfare. One of these films is tailored to professionals, and the other reaches out to the general public.

The NSPCC Helpline is the charity’s free advice line for any adult who may have concerns about a child, including professionals who work with children. The Helpline’s dedicated child protection specialists can advise on a wide range of issues. Adults can contact the Helpline for guidance and support on issues affecting children, as well as for serious cases of suspected child abuse.

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One parent from Northern Ireland told the NSPCC Helpline: “I found out from my daughter’s school that there’s sexually explicit videos of her being sent around. She won’t tell me the circumstances of how these videos were made but I think she’s been coerced or blackmailed. She’s not even at the age of consent.

“The police are involved but I want her to talk to me so I can support her through this.”

The NSPCC also operates a dedicated Whistleblowing Helpline, which can be contacted for any concerns around child protection issues within the workplace, or other professional organisations.

Childline, the charity’s free child counselling service, also hears directly from children on the impact sexual abuse can have on their lives.

One girl from Northern Ireland aged 16 told Childline: “I feel so sick and panicky just trying to talk about it. I only met him to hang out and he made me do things I wasn’t ready for. I’m scared that if I try to report it, I don’t have evidence that he forced me and everyone will say it doesn’t count because I went over to his.”

The NSPCC is calling on the general public, including those who work with children, to use the Helpline to express any concerns they may have regarding a child, even if they are not certain. In doing this, every person can play a part in keeping children safe from sexual abuse.

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Kam Thandi, Helpline Director at the NSPCC, said: “The high numbers of child sexual offences being reported by police forces across the UK are a warning to us all that more must be done to tackle this abuse.”

“This new Helpline campaign, in partnership with the Home Office, will encourage the general public and professionals to reach out with concerns about child sexual abuse. All of us must play our part in protecting children.

“The Helpline deals with concerns, no matter how big or small, and we’re encouraging adults to contact us. What is shared could be life-changing for a child experiencing sexual abuse.”

The Minister for Victims and Safeguarding, Laura Farris MP, said: “The protection of children is a collective effort. Every adult must be supported to call out child sexual abuse without fear.

“That’s why we’re supporting the NSPCC and their Helpline, to protect children and bring offenders to justice.

“I am committed to stamping out child sexual abuse, which is why we’ve also pledged to introduce mandatory reporting and set up a task force to clamp down on grooming gangs.”

Any adults concerned about a child’s safety or wellbeing can contact the NSPCC Helpline at [email protected] or by calling 0808 800 5000. Children can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or People should always contact 999 if they suspect a child is in immediate danger.