A leading children's charity has revealed nearly 500 cases of non-recent sexual abuse against children have been recorded by Northamptonshire Police over the last four years.
The number of recorded offences involving non-recent sexual abuse – where the offence is alleged to have occurred more than a year before it was reported to police – has increased from 59 in 2013/14 to 215 in 2016/17.
Across the UK more than 60,000 cases of non-recent sexual abuse against children were recorded, with a year on year increase from 10,493 in 2013/14 to 20,410 last year.
However, 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.
The NSPCC says it is hopeful the increase in cases recorded by police will reassure survivors they will be listened to.
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.
She said: “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.”
The new non-recent sexual offences figures were obtained following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to police forces in England and Wales and British Transport Police. Figures were also provided by the PSNI.
The true overall number of non-recent offences against children recorded will be higher still with six UK police forces not providing full figures for all four years.
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.”
As well victims of past abuse being able to seek support from the NSPCC, the National Association of People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) has trained staff who can speak with survivors of childhood abuse and explore the options available to them such as support groups and counselling.
NAPAC also supports the family and friends of people who are helping someone who was abused.
Any adult who is the victim of non-recent abuse is urged to report it to the police or contact the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 for advice and support. Children can contact Childline on 0800 1111.