HISTORIC child sex offences recorded by Warwickshire Police have more than quadrupled in the last four years – double the average nationwide increase.
The NSPCC revealed there were 333 cases of non-recent sexual abuse against children in the county during 2016-17, up from 66 in 2013-14.
Across the UK, cases rose from 10,493 to 20,410 in the same period.
The children’s charity believes the steep rise may be down to high-profile cases such as the football abuse scandal – about which a dedicated NSPCC helpline has received over 2,500 calls.
NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless hoped the increase would reassure victims their reports would be listened to and acted upon by police.
He said: “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.”
“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.
“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.”
Maria, 47, was sexually abused and raped by her 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.”
Victims of past abuse can seek support from the NSPCC or the National Association of People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC), whose trained staff can explore options such as support groups and counselling.
Adult victims of non-recent abuse are urged to report it to the police or call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000. Children can call Childline on 0800 1111.