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Issue:- Thursday, 28 July 2016

Headlines and reports on this page = 3 news items.    Page - 10.

PCC urges Home Secretary to act to tackle rise in child sexual offences

LANCASHIRE'S Police and Crime Commissioner, Clive Grunshaw, has written to the new Home Secretary Amber Rudd, urging her to tackle child sex abuse as new figures reveal a huge increase in sex crimes reported across the country.  It comes as Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures revealed sex crimes have risen by 21% nationwide and by 33% in Lancashire in the 2015. In numbers this means there were 2,656 sexual offences recorded in Lancashire and 106,378 across England and Wales between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2016. A similar rise in sex offences against children is shown in the official data, with a significant number of those crimes taking place wholly or partly online.

Clive Grunshaw said:- "What I know is that mobile technology such as smart phones, social media and online gaming are responsible for many of the crimes reported against children. The Government current efforts in this area are falling woefully short. Cuts to Police Forces, schools, victim services and social services up and down the country are not helping us tackle this major issue.  Child exploitation and abuse isn't just a Police problem, it's a problem for all of society and we need to come together to tackle this. I want to see the Home Office say enough is enough to cutting public services that work to protect children. The Government needs to ensure there are more resources to help keep young people safe and, just as important, to ensure our services for victims of crime are protected for the future."

The Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner recently launched specialist support services for children who are victims of sexual abuse and has already seen a steady flow of young people seek help to cope with the impact of their abuse.  He said:- "What we've learned too is that those who are abused are more likely to become abusers in the future without the right support, so we need to act now to prevent this from happening."

Other investments made by the Commissioner include an extra £100,000 of funding from proceeds of crime for the Enlighten Project run by Blackpool Council, which is working with victims to help stop them from becoming Offenders.

An additional £1m has also been invested in the Lancashire force to help investigate non recent cases, which make up a significant proportion of sexual offences against under 16s reported to Lancashire Police.

The Commissioner added:- "I am doing what I can locally but the Government really needs to look at more prevention, investigation and education to help stop this growing epidemic in our society. Instead what we see is cuts to our Children's Services, Police Forces and refuges caused by continued cuts to public sector funding. The scale of the offences nationwide needs to be tackled and it is clear the Government's current approach is not working. I am heartened that reporting is increasing in Lancashire, because it means all our campaigning and efforts at raising awareness are having an impact, and that people feel confident that they can report and they will be listened to. For generations we have been talking about sexual offences as 'hidden crimes' and these increases show just how wide spread these awful crimes are and have been. We are seeing offenders and victims from all walks of life which is why I have committed to dedicated victim's services and more resources to deal with non recent investigations. I will continue to ensure Lancashire residents get the best service possible from the police but we need to see the new Home Secretary deliver in Government."

The Commissioner said he also remained concerned about the level of domestic abuse across the county and the impact of Public Service cuts on Police which had become the service of last resort.

Overall crime in Lancashire has risen by 4.9% on the previous year, nationally the increase is 8.7%. These figures do not include fraud, which is recorded nationally. The overall rise in Police recorded crime for England and Wales including fraud is 8.1%.

With sexual offences against under 16s, analysis shows offenders are across all ages and are often known to the victim. Nationally, figures show 10% of child sexual offences are classed as online crime while analysis in Lancashire show the proportion is even higher in the county. National crime figures can be found here.

For more information on Nest Lancashire that works to support young victims of crime see:- NestLancashire.Org.

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