More than 100 victims of child sex abuse have been helped by the NSPCC in Peterborough after it was revealed the number of non-recent offences investigated by Cambridgeshire police had risen from four to 300 in the space of a year.
The figures have been revealed by the NSPCC, which show that more than 340 cases of non-recent sexual abuse against children have been recorded by Cambridgeshire Police over the last four years.
In 2013/14 Cambridgeshire police recorded 17 non-recent sex offences against under 18s. The number rose slightly to 22 the following year, before a fall to four in 2015/16. However, in 2016/17 it shot up to 300.
The children’s charity believes this steep rise may, in part, be down to high-profile abuse cases as well as the football abuse scandal which began a year ago this week and has seen a dedicated NSPCC Helpline receive more than 2,500 calls across the country.
However, a Cambridgeshire police spokesman said it was not clear what had caused the rise.
The spokesman said: “It is difficult to say exactly what has led to this rise in reports, however, a number of factors may have had an influence including the ongoing county-wide football-related abuse investigation and a general increase in awareness among the public, mainly through media and television dramas, that has resulted in a rise in third party reporting.
“Child abuse is a priority for the force and we continue to work with partner agencies to reduce the number of child abuse offences and encourage victims to come forwards.
“The force has specialist teams responsible for safeguarding and supporting all victims while ensuring every opportunity is taken to bring offenders to justice.”
Since November 2013, the NSPCC’s Peterborough Service Centre has provided therapeutic treatment to 123 child victims of sexual abuse as part of its Letting The Future In service.
Maria, 47, was sexually abused and raped by her biological father at a very young age and still feels the effects of the abuse now:
“I don’t want to have a strong relationship with anyone. I’m also far too altruistic – I give so much of myself to feel good about myself – but I often feel worse. I have had breakdowns, have depressive episodes and I’ve attempted suicide as an adult.
“But I am determined and I’ve got dreams and ambitions. I’m strong. I went to the police to report my father when I was 25 and the conviction has helped me recover.”
Peter Wanless, Chief Executive of the NSPCC, said: “It doesn’t matter whether the sexual abuse happened a year ago or 50 years ago, it is never too late to report it. It’s clear that for far too long, many people who suffered horrendously as children felt they could not speak up, were not believed or did not know who to turn to.
“Although these rising figures paint a worrying picture of widespread abuse, it is encouraging that so many are finally finding their voice in a climate today where they know they will be listened to and supported.”
“What’s important now is survivors of abuse receive the support they need and that the people who carried out these vile offences are identified and finally brought to justice.”
Any adult who is the victim of non-recent abuse is urged to report it to the police on 101, or contact the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 for advice and support. Children can contact Childline on 0800 1111.