POLICE chiefs say tackling child sex offenders is a priority after shocking new figures reveal there have been hundreds of victims in our region.
Figures released by the charity the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) show that in 2009-10 there were 274 child sex offences in the Cleveland Police area and 249 in the Durham Police area.
Nationally 23,390 child sex offences, including rape, incest and gross indecency, were recorded by police in England and Wales in 2009-10, up eight per cent on the previous year and 13 per cent from 2007-08.
The head of the public protection unit at Cleveland Police, Peter McPhillips, said: “Cleveland Police is working hard with all of our partners on the Local Safeguarding Children Boards to understand and tackle the problems of child sex abuse.
“It is hoped that this work gives victims the confidence to come forward and seek the help and support that is available to them.
“Tackling the crime remains a priority for Cleveland Police and we will continue to put every effort into targeting child sex offenders.”
Of the 23,390 child sex offences recorded last year, more than half (12,088) were aged 12 to 15, while around one in four were aged five to 11 (5,164) and a similar proportion were aged 16 and 17 (5,022).
One in every 25 child victims (1,028) were aged four or under and the ages of a further 88 child victims were unknown.
The figures also showed 2,200 of the 9,636 suspects were aged under 18.
It comes after the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) task force, which uses intelligence and surveillance to make sure perverts do not re-offend, revealed that there are 60 known sex offenders living in Hartlepool.
Meanwhile, the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme, which allows parents and carers to get information about whether people in regular contact with their children are registered as having previous convictions against youngsters, has uncovered 15 perverts in town since the scheme was launched in March 2009.
This came after 156 carers, from the Cleveland Police force area, aired concerns to police and requested information about a particular person.