Posted: 22 April 2016

Mapped: The extent of sexual crimes against children in England and Wales, 2015

Every three months the Office for National Statistics publishes data that allows us to see how many times the police recorded a specific crime on their databases. It is one of the best indications we have about how often specific crimes happen and whether they are increasing or in decline.  

This data enables us to explore the extent of sexual crimes against children in 2015. In the past year, we calculate that there were more than 40,000 reported crimes of a sexual nature committed against children.  

Calculating this number, however, is not straightforward

There are eleven different crimes that the police can choose to record when a sexual crime is committed against a child. These crimes range from grooming to child sexual exploitation to sexual assault. There are a number of reasons for this diverse range of crimes. Some are based on the age of the child and whether or not they could give consent. Others are based on the nature of the crime, for example whether it involved grooming or familial abuse.  Some offences against children only cover children up to the age of 13 thus making the true scale of sexual offending against all children under the age of 18 and particularly of children aged 16 and 17 not entirely known.  The real number will be much higher.   

In order to better understand these numbers we have produced an interactive map. This map gives the total number of crimes recorded against children by each police force. Click on the map to explore the numbers.

How should we respond?

The numbers of sexual crimes committed against children are shocking and show the scale of need across the country. Currently in Parliament, MPs are debating the Policing and Crime Bill and we are seeking changes to the Bill to enhance both the protection available for victims of sexual crimes and the tools available to Police to prevent these crimes happening in the first place.

With the help of MPs, we are working on two amendments on the Policing and Crime Bill.  

The first amendment is about prevention

We want Parliament to agree to give the police more powers to disrupt grooming and sexual exploitation.  

Currently 16 and 17 year olds do not receive the same protection as younger children because of their age but we know, through the young people we support, that some 16 and 17 year olds can be extremely vulnerable and deserve as much protection as younger children. 

Our amendment would allow the police to use a 'Child Abduction Warning Notice' to protect vulnerable 16 and 17 year olds from exploitation. These warning notices are useful in preventing sexual exploitation but they can currently only be used on younger children and a very small minority of 16 and 17 year olds.

The second amendment is about supporting victims

So many victims of sexual offences suffer from poor mental health as they struggle to understand what has happened to them and how to regain some normality in their lives. Our amendment would put a duty on police forces to share information about every child victim of a sexual offence with local mental health services to ensure that every victim has a clear and guaranteed pathway to mental health support.

You can help

MPs have begun to debate these issues in Parliament. The Government is listening to us but with your support we can place more pressure on them and encourage them to act.  

Please email your MP to have them add their voice to ours.

Email your MP

By Lucy Dacey - Programme staff

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