Abuse of trust sex cases more than double in Cambridgeshire

The number of cases has more than doubled
The number of cases has more than doubled

The number of sex offences carried out by people in positions of trust against teenagers in Cambridgeshire has more than doubled in a year.

In the first six months of this year there were 22 recorded offences across the county - compared to just nine the previous year.

Cases include professionals such as teachers, care staff and youth justice workers targeting 16 and 17-year-olds in their care.

Position of Trust laws don’t currently apply to other adults working with young people, but Government this month announced it plans to extend legislation to cover sports coaches.

The NSPCC’s #TrustToLead campaign is urging Government to go further and extend the law to cover all adults working regularly with children, including religious leaders, adults working in the arts, outdoor pursuits and other activities.

An NSPCC spokesman said the current loophole means adults with regular and intense contact with children in extra-curricular activities are able to groom them from a young age, and abuse that trusting relationship to have sexual contact as soon as the child turns 16.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: “It’s hard to believe that the law protects 16- and 17-year-old children from being preyed upon in the classroom, but not on the sports pitch or on the stage.

“We know that some adult youth workers spend years grooming young people and then, as soon as their 16th birthday comes around, they target them for sex.

“Extending Position of Trust laws to sports coaches is an important step in the right direction which will help protect more children from this kind of abuse. But to stop there would be a missed opportunity. Government must close this loophole to protect children from other adults who use their authority to exploit them.”

The figures show in the first six months in 2014, there were four recorded incidents in Cambridgeshire, the following year there were two, in 2016 there were nine, and this year there were 22.

Lee’s story

The NSPCC revealed Lee’s story as an example of the abuse of trust some youngsters fall victim to. Names have been changed to protect anonymity.

“Quite early on, Adam and I began texting. He then started suggesting we should hang out outside of the group. I didn’t think anything of it, as I thought it was probably not uncommon for Youth Workers to want to spend time with young people like myself.

I didn’t have a lot of friends, I think because of the Christian thing; people at School weren’t really going that way and I felt slightly isolated.

I felt like I had a made a close friend in Adam. He was paying me attention and I enjoyed his company; it felt like he was really looking out for me. He allowed me to become an active member of the youth group, which I liked, and at times I would visit three or four times a week; each time with him providing me transport.

Then, Adam began encouraging me to hang out with him at his house. He started telling me that we had a special friendship.

It was very gradual and all quite innocent to start with, but I began to feel increasingly uncomfortable.

Adam started by sitting closer to me on the sofa, trailing his finger on to mine. Things which I thought were weird but not big enough to react to.

Over time, this turned into extended hugs and him kissing my face. He would tell me that I was his best mate and what we had was special. He said it was normal to do these things, even biblical; reading me passages from the Bible.

As things continued I told him I wasn’t comfortable with what he was doing. He didn’t listen but instead ramped things up by kissing me on the lips. The kissing on the lips then became more regular and I felt helpless to tell anybody about what was happening.

When I told Adam, that I wasn’t gay, I liked girls and I wanted him to stop, he would turn things round telling me that I must want this, because I’d instigated it. He would threaten to take me off the preaching rota or to stop giving me lifts. Adam made me feel as if I would be ostracised from the group if I put a stop to things with him and told me constantly that I wasn’t to tell anyone.

The pressure continued from him, that we were going to spend our lives together and he wanted us to have sex.

I was so confused but knew what he was doing was wrong. I wanted it to stop but part of me was afraid to speak out because I didn’t want to get him in trouble. Looking back now, I realise the level of grooming and manipulation. He purposely made me feel so reliant on him and not being able to talk to anybody about what was happening was making me feel really depressed.”