England

Child on child sex offences 'may be next scandal'

Upset boy Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Figures by Bernado's show an average of 22 cases of child on child sexual abuse every day between 2013 and 2016

Recorded cases of child on child sexual offences have increased by 78% between 2013 and 2016, according to Barnardo's.

The number of alleged offences reported to police in England and Wales rose from 5,215 in 2013 to 9,290 in 2016.

Barnardo's chief executive Javed Khan said such abuse "may become the next scandal in our society".

The National Police Chiefs' Council said the increase was down to "more awareness and greater victim confidence".

The figures, obtained by Barnardo's under the Freedom of Information Act, showed there were 32,452 reports to police of alleged sexual offences by children on other children over the four-year period - an average of more than 22 every day.

Seven of the 43 forces in England and Wales either did not respond or provided a partial response.

The number of reported cases more than doubled in 12 areas, including by 521% in Warwickshire and 371% in Norfolk.

The Metropolitan Police (5,470), West Yorkshire (3,192) and Greater Manchester (3,024) had the highest number of reported cases in the country. These forces also have the highest populations.

Mr Khan said the figures represented "another wake-up call".

He said such abuse could happen because perpetrators had been "abused themselves and may not have received the right support".

National Police Chiefs' Council Lead for Child Protection, Simon Bailey, who is also the chief constable of Norfolk Police, said it was important to "build resilience in young people and educate them about sexual relationships".

He said officers in Norfolk were working with schools to raise awareness of abuse.

Conservative MP for Wealden, Nusrat Ghani, who chaired a cross-party inquiry on Harmful Sexual Behaviour last year, said: "In this smartphone age, parents must also play a vigilant role in protecting their children from harmful sexual behaviour and images."

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