The number of cases of non-recent sex offences against children being recorded by Cleveland Police more than doubled in the past four years, new figures from the NSPCC reveal.
The number of recorded offences in the North East involving historical sexual abuse – where the offence is alleged to have occurred more than a year before it was reported to police – has increased from 726 in 2013/14 to 981 in 2016/17, totalling 3,602 cases for the four-year period.
In 2013/14 the Cleveland force recorded 157 cases but in 2016/17 that had risen to 361.
Chief Inspector Helen Barker, from Cleveland Police’s Protecting Vulnerable People Unit, said: “Cleveland Police has seen an increase in reports of non-recent sexual crime coinciding with high-profile cases nationally, including those involving well-known people.
“As a result of this we have been able to increase the confidence of victims and therefore incidents have continued to be reported and this can be seen in the figures.
“National media interest on high profile cases keeps it at the forefront of people’s minds and I expect that the increase in cases reported will continue for several years yet.”
For Durham Police however the number had fallen from 462 cases four years ago to 339 in 2016/17.
The NSPCC believes this steep rise nationally 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 hope the increase in cases recorded by police will reassure survivors they will be listened to and will see law enforcement taking swift action to bring the perpetrators to justice.
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 or contact the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 for advice and support.
Children can contact Childline on 0800 1111.