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Football abuse hotline receives 'staggering surge' in calls

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A dedicated football sex abuse hotline has received 860 calls in its first week, the NSPCC says.

Chief executive Peter Wanless said there had been a "staggering surge" in the number of people getting in touch.

The chief executive of funding body UK Sport said if any sport did not take enough action to deal with the issue of abuse, it would reconsider its funding.

Fifteen police forces are now investigating allegations of historical child sex abuse in football.

The inquiries come after several former players made allegations of abuse against football coaches.

The NSPCC said that between 23 and 29 November its hotline received 860 calls, and within the first three days of it launching, the organisation made more than 60 referrals to a range of agencies across the UK.

That was more than three times as many referrals as in the first three days of the Jimmy Savile scandal, the charity added.

How do you talk to your child about sexual abuse?

Mr Wanless said it demonstrated the "worrying extent of abuse that had been going on within the sport".

John Brown, the NSPCC lead on tackling sexual abuse, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the calls were about current concerns, as well as historical and non-recent abuse.

Pressed about calls involving current cases, he said he was unable to give details but it "would be naïve to assume that all the concerns were in the past".

He drew parallels with victims of the late DJ Jimmy Savile, saying sexual abuse is fundamentally about the abuse of power and his victims had been "very effectively" silenced.

"Listening to these footballers talk bravely about their experiences - and the many reasons why they couldn't speak up - I think it would be naïve to assume that there is not the risk of an ongoing problem in football and in sport generally that needs to continue to be examined and dealt with," he said.

A zero tolerance approach to abuse and harassment was needed in football clubs and whistleblowers should be listened to, he added.

Internal review

Liz Nicholl, UK Sport's chief executive, spoke to the BBC about how other sports must react to the allegations affecting football - and what repercussions they could face if they fail to take claims seriously enough.

"We would certainly want the sport to evidence the action it's taking to deal with the issue, and if we were concerned in any way, if there was inaction, then we would consider our funding relationship with the sport," she said.

UK Sport allocates money from the government and National Lottery to Olympic and Paralympic sport.

On Wednesday, BBC 5 live learned Essex Police had received information relating to allegations of non-recent child abuse.

Norfolk Constabulary also told the BBC it was in the early stages of an investigation into an allegation.

The Football Association has announced an internal review and a number of football clubs are conducting their own inquiries.

It was revealed on the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme that the FA scrapped a flagship project in 2003 meant to ensure children were being protected from sexual abuse.

Meanwhile, former Newcastle player Derek Bell has revealed he wanted to kill the coach who sexually abused him during the 1970s.

He was groomed and abused by George Ormond between the ages of 12 and 16 while playing for the Montagu and North Fenham boys football club. Ormond was later jailed for six years for sexually assaulting young boys.

Chelsea Football Club has also confirmed it has begun an investigation into allegations of historical sexual abuse concerning a now-deceased individual it employed in the 1970s.

'Come forward'

A number of forces including the Metropolitan Police, Greater Manchester Police and Cheshire Police had previously announced they were investigating historical allegations.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: "Essex Police has received information relating to allegations of non-recent child abuse within the football community.

"That information will be reviewed and investigated accordingly."

He added: "We need those who have been the victim of child sexual abuse to report it to the police.

"We also urge anyone who may have any information regarding child sexual abuse to come forward.

"When allegations are reported, it enables police to assess whether there are current safeguarding risks and ensure appropriate action is taken."

A spokesman for Norfolk Constabulary said the force was "investigating an allegation relating to child abuse within football".

"We are in the early stages of our investigation and cannot comment any further," he added.

  • The FA is supporting a hotline set up by the NSPCC. It is available 24 hours a day on 0800 0232642

Police forces investigating allegations:

  • North Wales
  • North Yorkshire
  • Dorset
  • Staffordshire
  • Greater Manchester
  • Cambridgeshire
  • Hampshire
  • Cheshire
  • Northumbria
  • Metropolitan
  • Police Scotland
  • Avon and Somerset
  • Essex
  • Norfolk

Related Topics

  • Child sexual abuse in football
  • Essex Police
  • Norfolk Constabulary

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