SHOCKING new figures reveal the number of child sex abuse cases in the West Midlands has risen by nearly 40 per cent.
According to the latest figures released by the NSPCC, the number of sexual offences against children recorded by officers from West Midlands Police rose from 1,003 in 2012/2013, to 1,366 in 2013/2014 – a 36 per cent increase.
In response to a Freedom of Information request made to West Midlands Police by the NSPCC, the force also revealed the number of offences committed against girls (1,076) was four times higher than that of boys (269) and 152 of the victims were children aged five and under.
Last year the NSPCC helpline received 300 calls about sexual abuse from within the West Midlands – of which more than half were serious enough to be referred to other agencies, including social services and the police.
But, officers from West Midlands police have put the rise in reports down to more detectives, publicity campaigns and ‘innovate approaches to child protection’ rather than an increase in the number of sexual offences being committed against young people in the area.
Now in its second year, the force’s Sentinel scheme – an initiative to raise awareness and increase reports of crimes which were once taboo – has also seen the number of detectives dedicated to investigating abuse almost triple.
Speaking about the latest figures, West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said one single case of child abuse is ‘one too many.
He added: “It is welcome that more people have the confidence to come forward, but we must continue to do more to tackle this issue.
“In the West Midlands thanks to the strong leadership of Stephen Rimmer, West Midlands lead for tackling Child Sexual Expolitation (CSE), the police are working together with local authorities and other partner agencies to share best practice and make sure that services are as strong as they can be.
“By working with partners we are also identifying more cases and have increased the accuracy of recording them, which is another reason for the rise.
“We take nothing for granted and this is a crucial issue that we will continue to work hard on to tackle.
“The way to tackle hidden crimes is to bring them out into the open.
“It is positive that we are talking about crimes like this, but I am under no illusions that there is still much to do.”