Northern Ireland news

PSNI recorded average of six child sex offences every day last year

sad child with his head between his legs left alone at home.
Marie Louise McConville

THE PSNI recorded an average of six child sex offences every day last year.

The NSPCC released figures which showed there were 2,082 recorded offences against children under 18 in Northern Ireland in 2019/20 - up 37 per cent over the five years since 2014/15.

Across the UK, there were 73,518 recorded offences including rape, online grooming and sexual assault, up 57 per cent in the same period.

The charity said the figures show the need for government to deal with the "hidden harms" of the Covid pandemic and ensure support for children who have experienced sexual abuse is embedded in recovery planning.

It said this should include the establishment of a cross-departmental strategic framework to support a collaborative response to child sexual abuse in Northern Ireland as recommended by the Criminal Justice Inspection (CJI).

Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, said: "The crisis of child sexual abuse is not going away and behind these figures are thousands of children and young people who have reported crimes that can have a devastating impact on their lives.

"Urgent action is needed to prevent abuse and to ensure children are supported to recover when they bravely speak out.

"We need concerted leadership from governments across the UK to implement strategies on tackling child sexual abuse that put the experiences and needs of children at their heart and are effective in preventing abuse and helping young people recover".

The call came as an NSPCC report found that contacts from young people to Childline about sexual abuse in the family tripled during lockdown.

Some children said sexual abuse had become more frequent as they were spending more time with their abuser.

Anyone concerned about a child can contact the NSPCC helpline for advice on 0808 800 5000.

Childline is available for young people on 0800 1111 or at www.childline.org.uk.

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