Sex offences against children in Wales at an all-time high

10 crimes a day taking place here says charity

More children than ever are falling victim to sexual predators in Wales.

The number of sexual offences against children recorded by Welsh police forces has risen to an all-time high.

According to a Freedom of Information Request by the NSPCC - 10 crimes are taking place each day on average.

3,671 offences were logged by police across Wales in 2018 to  19 -  a rise of more than five per cent on the previous year.

South Wales Police (1,318), North Wales Police (1,040) and Dyfed-Powys Police (848) all reported rises on the figures from 2017/18, while Gwent Police (465) saw a fall in recorded offences.

The NSPCC is calling for a radical reshaping of how this support is delivered across the country.

Des Mannion, the head of NSPCC Cymru/Wales, said:

“Record numbers of child sexual offences means we are facing a nationwide crisis in the help available for tens of thousands of children.

“These children are bravely disclosing what happened to them but in too many cases there is not enough timely, joined up and child-friendly support.

“The Welsh Government’s ‘National Action Plan on Preventing and Responding to Child Sexual Abuse’ is something which NSPCC Cymru/Wales has long called for.  The way in which it is looking at how support services are being provided to children and young people is a bold and highly-promising development.

“We need a radical rethink in the way we help these young people, otherwise they could struggle for the rest of their lives with long term, deep seated trauma.”

Earlier this summer, the Welsh Government published its ‘National Action Plan on Preventing and Responding to Child Sexual Abuse’ – a strategy designed to keep children safe from abuse while offering support to survivors.

In particular, the plan aims to raise public awareness through providing children with the right information in order to speak out while equipping adults with the skills to listen in the moment of disclosure.

Beth*, a survivor of abuse whose name has been changed to protect her identity, spoke to members of the National Assembly of Wales’ Cross-party Group on Preventing Child Sexual Abuse on Wednesday along with other survivors from across Wales.

Beth* said: “I’m delighted to hear there is now a national action plan to prevent and respond to all forms of child sexual abuse in Wales.

“This new work I hope will safeguard the children of our future from all forms of child sexual abuse. I largely support the proposed action plan, which focuses on supporting victims, the victims support network and professionals.

“I think it is vital to stop abuse before it happens or to prevent offending. A world with less perpetrators means less victims and suffering.

“I think the plan could be strengthened with a better focus on perpetrators - targeting the root of the cause not just the aftermath of trauma. This is crucial for a world without abuse.”

The charity is calling for all children who have experienced sexual abuse to access specialist services in their area where they live with an emphasis on early joined up support.

Meanwhile, the NSPCC’s Letting the Future In (LTFI) service, which is offered at the NSPCC Cymru/Wales centres in Prestatyn and Swansea, provides therapeutic support for children who have been sexually abused.

Young people aged eight to 17-years-old who used the service showed a significant reduction in psychological and behavioural problems.

In 2018/19, Childline counsellors delivered 394 counselling sessions to children and young people from Wales who spoke to the free and confidential NSPCC-supported service about sexual abuse and online sexual abuse.

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