Eight sexual offences against babies aged under one in Cambridgeshire in the last year, new figures have revealed.
The total number of child sex offences recorded by Cambridgeshire Police rose to 746 last year the NSPCC has revealed today (Tuesday).
The number of offences recorded in 2016/17 increased by 23 per cent per cent from the previous year when 608 offences were recorded.
The figures, revealed in a freedom of information request, showed there were a total of 262 crimes were recorded against children aged ten and under, while 65 of these crimes were perpetrated against children aged four and under.
The NSPCC said the total number of sex offences committed against children is unknown, as more children may not have come forward out of fear or embarrassment, or may not even realise they have been abused.
The NSPCC believes the dramatic increase could be down to a number of factors, including: Police forces improving recording methods; Survivors feeling more confident in disclosing abuse following high-profile cases and online groomers becoming a significant problem with predators able to reach hundreds of children.
Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive, said: “This dramatic rise is extremely concerning and shows just how extensive child sexual abuse is.
“These abhorrent crimes can shatter a child’s life, leaving them to feel humiliated, depressed, or even suicidal. That is why it is crucial every single child who has endured abuse and needs support must get timely, thorough help so they can learn to rebuild their lives.
“These new figures suggest the police are making real progress in how they investigate sex offences against children. To help them tackle the issue going forward, we must ensure the police are equipped to work with other agencies and provide ongoing support and training to officers on the front line.”
Detective Inspector Andrea Warren said: “Child protection is a force priority. We will do all we can to investigate abuse in all its forms and safeguard the victims.
“There has been a national, as well as local, increase in offences. This could be for a number of reasons including an increase in offenders using the internet to commit crimes, more awareness of the problem, more confidence in reporting and improvement in crime recording practices.
“We have a dedicated unit to investigate child abuse and in the coming months we will see an increase in the number of officers in the department to support investigations.
“We have been delivering training to front line officers to increase their knowledge of child abuse and how to spot the warning signs. This training coincides with the ongoing campaign work we have been doing to raise public awareness of abuse and encourage people to report concerns.”