Reported Child Sexual Abuse Rises 60% In Four Years

Number Of Arrests For Child Sexual Abuse Offences Falls By 9% Over Same Period


Andrew Robinson, Press Officer | 0113 218 6463

The volume of child sexual abuse incidents reported to police has risen by 60% since 2011, but the number of arrests for child sexual abuse offences has fallen by 9% over the same period, official figures have revealed.

A House of Commons analysis based on Freedom of Information requests to individual forces in England and Wales, to which 33 of 41 replied, found that the number of offences reported to police rose from 5,557 in 2011 to 8,892. However, the number of corresponding arrests fell from 3,511 to 3,208.

Many forces have seen their child sexual abuse caseload double over the past four years, resulting in resourcing issues with handling the scale of the problem, particularly given a reduction in police numbers of 17,000 over the same period.

Child abuse experts suggest that these official figures may not be fully representative, as there are still a great number of incidents that go unreported to police.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, who made the Freedom of Information requests, said that the majority of the increased numbers was due to current cases rather than historical ones, with a rise in online grooming in particular driving the increase.

"Victims of child sex abuse are being let down when alongside a 60% increase in reports there has been a 9% drop in arrests for child sex abuse, as well as falling prosecutions and convictions for child abuse offences, as the police are unable to keep up," she said.

Expert Opinion
These figures indicate a growing confidence among survivors of sexual abuse to come forward and make disclosures about the abuse they suffered, knowing that their allegations will be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly. However, the fall in the number of arrests is undoubtedly a cause for concern, particularly given the resourcing issues many police forces are experiencing.

“The priority in sexual abuse cases should be ensuring survivors have access to the help and support they need. It is also important for police forces to have the resources available to pursue allegations and to conduct thorough investigations to provide survivors with the justice they are looking for and rightly deserve.
Scott Tolliss, Other Legal Expert