MORE than 2,600 child sex offences were recorded in Hampshire last year, new figures have revealed.

Hampshire Police recorded a 53 per cent rise in child sexual offences in the five years since 2014 to 2015, figures from the NSPCC reveal.

A total of 2,661 offences against children were recorded by the force in 2019-20, averaging at 51 incidents a week. This is compared to 1,734 cases recorded in 2014-15.

Hampshire Police claim that the increase in recorded cases is "in line with the national trend" and that the increase includes non-recent abuse.

Nationally there were 73,518 recorded offences including rape, online grooming and sexual assault against children in the UK in 2019-20 – up 57 per cent from 2014-15.

Detective Chief Inspector Liam Davies said: "Hampshire Constabulary has seen a rise in Child Sexual Offences over the last five years in line with the national trend.

"These increases include non-recent abuse. In many of these cases successful high profile investigations both nationally and locally have given victims the confidence to report historic child abuse.

"Specially trained officers and staff work in partnership with colleagues from social care, education, health and other agencies to tackle and prevent offending against children.

"We also recognise the increased risk during lockdown periods where protective factors may be removed for children. We have therefore worked both internally and with partners to highlight the importance of making ‘every child contact count’. This includes recognising potential warning signs.

"Details of these potential signs of Sexual Abuse can be found on the NSPCC website which also has details what to do should you have any safeguarding concerns about a child."

Hampshire Chronicle:

Where gender and age were recorded, girls were four times as likely to be victims. There were more than 8,000 offences committed against 14-year-olds, making it the most common age group to report offences.

There were 12,374 sex crimes recorded against children under ten, while 449 offences were recorded against babies yet to reach their first birthday.

The charity said the figures on child sexual abuse show the need for national leadership in response and urged the Home Office to publish and implement its Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy.

NSPCC Chief Executive Peter Wanless said: “The crisis of child sexual abuse is not going away and behind these figures are thousands of children and young people who have reported crimes that can have a devastating impact on their lives.

“Urgent action is needed to prevent abuse and to ensure children are supported to recover when they bravely speak out.

“We need concerted leadership from governments across the UK to implement strategies on tackling child sexual abuse that put the experiences and needs of children at their heart and are effective in preventing abuse and helping young people recover.”