HAMPSHIRE has topped a league of shame for sex crimes committed by adults against children in their care.

Home Office figures for the south east show the number of sexual offences carried out by people in a position of trust rose to 64 in 2016-17.

Hampshire had the highest total with 20 recorded crimes compared with five in the previous 12 months.

The figure for the City of London and Metropolitan Police forces totalled 14, with the statistics for Surrey (12) and Kent (13) almost as bad.

The overall figure represents an increase on 2015-16, when 45 offences were recorded in the region.

But the NSPCC says the figures fail to convey the full extent of the problem because the “abuse of trust” laws do not apply to sports coaches or other youth leaders.

Now the charity is calling for the legislation to be extended to enable more youngsters to be protected.

A spokesman said: “There has been a 57 per cent increase in recorded offences in England and Wales where professionals such as teachers or care staff have had sexual contact with 16 or 17-year-old children they work with.

“The NSPCC’s TrustToLead campaign is calling for laws on Position of Trust to be extended to better protect children in sport and other youth activities.

“A legal loophole means adults with regular and intense contact with children in sport and other activities are able to groom them from a young age and abuse that trusting relationship to have sexual contact as soon as the child turns 16.”

Almudena Lara, of the NSPCC,’s head of policy said the safeguarding of children should not end at that age.She added: “The NSPCC has been told of a number of cases where leaders in sports and other youth work settings have used their position to groom children and then take advantage of them as soon as they turn 16.

“It’s baffling that sports coaches and other youth workers are not deemed to be in a position of trust.

“Sadly we know this trust can be abused. It’s therefore vital that this legal definition is widened to include sports coaches and other youth workers, bolstering protection for teenagers at risk of grooming once they pass the age of consent.”

The government said it had asked sports governing bodies to examine their own safeguarding practices to ensure they were as robust as possible.