Child sexual offences rise by a third over five years

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NSPCC Scotland is calling for a new strategy to protect children from abuse

10th August 2020 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

Sexual offences against children in Scotland have increased by almost a third over the past five years, new figures have revealed.

Police Scotland numbers obtained by children’s charity NSPCC Scotland showed there were 5,311 recorded offences in 2019/20 – up 30% since 2014/15. These include instances of rape, grooming and sexual assault.

Where gender was recorded, girls were five times as likely to be victims, and in the offences where age category was given, 45% of the crimes recorded were against children under 13.

NSPCC Scotland said it is now crucial that the Scottish Government implements a coordinated plan to tackle child sexual abuse, both online and offline, in the country.

The charity is calling for the strategy to put the needs of children and young people at the centre of how authorities respond to child sexual abuse, with a focus on effective prevention and victims having access to timely, relevant and specialist support to help them recover.

Matt Forde, NSPCC Scotland’s head of service, said: “Every day, children in Scotland are being sexually abused and having to live with the devastating impacts of this abuse on their lives. Urgent action is needed to prevent abuse and to ensure children are supported to recover when it is disclosed.

“In Scotland, we have seen numerous plans and initiatives launched to deal with various aspects of such abuse, including child sexual exploitation and harmful sexual behaviour.

“However, we believe it is crucial to have a joined-up approach when tackling this crime and want to see a strategy which puts the experiences and needs of children at the heart of it and is effective in preventing abuse and helping young people recover.”

The call comes as an NSPCC report found contacts from young people to Childline about sexual abuse in the family had tripled across the UK during lockdown. In many cases children told the service abuse had become more frequent during lockdown as they were spending more time with their abuser.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The safety and wellbeing of Scotland’s children and young people is a key priority and we are working to ensure that all children and families who need support are able to access it.

“Child sexual abuse is complex with a devastating impact and requires a co-ordinated, multi-agency response. 

“Intervention and protection are vital in the support of survivors and victims and we are revising Scotland’s National Child Protection Guidance, though we recognise how disappointing the delay caused by our response to the Covid-19 pandemic has been.

“No child should have to endure abuse and anyone who suspects a child may be at risk of harm should contact police.”