PCC calls for police to do 'all they can' as number of child sexual abuse cases rise

PUBLISHED: 17:00 23 July 2017

The man was spared jail.

The man was spared jail.

Archant

The number of child abuse cases reported to Avon and Somerset Constabulary has grown by almost 50 per cent in the past three years.

Reported child sex offences has risen from 829 – a figure which grew by 46 per cent in 2016 – to 1,215 calls over the past three and a half years from 2014 and May 1, 2017.

There is no explanation for the rise, but the force’s Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens says police need to do ‘all they can’ to prevent exploitation and abuse.

She added: “Sexually-exploited children suffer adverse consequences which blight their lives.

“We must respond quickly and effectively when we recognise the signs and improve the outcomes for vulnerable children”

Of the 439 cases which have been reported between January and May this year, 18 resulted in people being charged. Ms Mountstevens has said this could be down to a number of reasons, like a lack of evidence or victim vulnerability.

She added: “Sadly, I have listened to many sexual abuse victims who tell me about their traumatic and testing time at court.

“We need to do all we can to make sure young, vulnerable witnesses have access to specialists who can appropriately guide and support them through the court process.

“We must all take responsibility as a society to learn about this issue in order to challenge perpetrators and give victims the confidence to report.”

The PCC’s office has been working with the police and its wider partners to raise awareness about the ‘heinous’ crime so members of the community can learn how to recognise the signs.

Ms Mountstevens added: “Let’s be clear, child sexual exploitation is happening.

“Any child can be targeted and those who are, can experience deep psychological and emotional damage.

“Safeguarding our young people is everyone’s business and together we can prevent child sexual exploitation from happening.

“Working together we can tackle this heinous crime, support our vulnerable children and allow them to live free from exploitation and abuse.”

If you suspect a child is being exploited, contact 101 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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