'Shocking' rise in number of sexual offences by Suffolk teenagers in 2021

Sexual offences increased in Suffolk in 2021, according to police figures

Sexual offences increased in Suffolk in 2021, according to police figures (file photo) - Credit: PA

Sexual abuse offences between teenagers in Suffolk rose by about three-quarters in the space of a year, police have said.

Figures released by Suffolk police revealed there were 211 peer-on-peer sexual offences recorded by young people aged between 13 and 17 last year.

The total for 2020 was 120 – meaning it rose by 75.8% year-on-year.

Online peer-on-peer abuse has been described by police as any form abuse between young people that involves a digital element.

This includes 'sexting', online abuse, coercion and exploitation, peer-on-peer grooming, threatening language, as well as the distribution of sexualised content and harassment.

As part of Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence Awareness Week, Suffolk police is highlighting the figures and calling for groups across the county to come together to send the message that 'all forms of sexual violence are not OK'.

Tim Passmore, Suffolk's police and crime commissioner, said the figures were a "very sad reflection on our society" and highlighted schemes aimed at tackling online abuse.

Tim Passmore, Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner,is frustrated at the failure of the Maple Park b

Tim Passmore, Suffolk's police and crime commissioner - Credit: Archant

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He said: "Highlighting the issue of peer on peer abuse is absolutely crucial if we are going to reduce incidents of this dreadful behaviour.

“We all have a part to play to support and educate our young people to teach them to respect themselves and each other.

“It is quite shocking to me that young people are exposed to such dreadful material and can find themselves being abused and threatened by their peers via their electronic devices.

"It is a very sad reflection on our society and something we all need to work together to stop. It’s not OK."

DCI Anna Edmondson, of Suffolk police, added: "Child protection is everyone’s responsibility – we all have a duty of care in reporting concerns to make sure the ‘voice of the child’ is heard.

"We take all reports of sexual abuse and violence, whether it is physical or online, extremely seriously and we reassure victims that police and partners are committed to supporting survivors across Suffolk.

"Such peer on peer abuse is particularly challenging and we always ensure our investigations are conducted with sensitivity and empathy the right professionals with the right skills investigating such cases."