Figures reveal sex attacks on children

MORE than 250 sex offences were carried out on children in Suffolk in the last year alone, police revealed today.

MORE than 250 sex offences were carried out on children in Suffolk in the last year alone, police revealed today.

According to officers there were a total of 699 sexual offences against youngsters and adults in the county between April 1, 2006 and March 31, 2007. This includes 175 rapes.

The figures, which were revealed after a request under the Freedom of Information Act, come to light as The Evening Star reveals there is no longer a rape crisis centre for victims in Suffolk.

Among the sex crimes carried out on children, were 52 rapes on girls aged 16 or under, of which 18 of the victims were younger than 13.

In addition there were 72 sexual assaults on girls under 13.

Meanwhile there were 11 recorded offences of rape against boys - four on under 16-year-olds and seven on under 13-year-olds.

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Sexual activity involving a child also accounted for 70 offences.

Fifty of the 699 sex offences ended with the offenders accepting cautions which included two rapes on a male under 13 and 12 counts of sexual activity on a child.

The biggest single category was sexual assaults on a female aged 13 and over where 183 offences were recorded.

Other reported sex crimes included 15 of sexual grooming and 19 of soliciting women.

Lee Mitchell, the NSPCC's assistant director for children and young people, told of the effect sex abuse has on children.

He said: “It is traumatic and affects them into adult life. It potentially impacts on the way they manage their lives and their relationships.

“We recognise children and young people find it very, very difficult to come forward for a whole range of reasons.

“Trust and confidentiality are two major issues. Children and young people prefer to share issues with someone they know well.”

Detective chief inspector John Quinton, of Suffolk police stressed officers do all they can to treat victims with the utmost sensitivity during an investigation and help them rebuild their lives.

He said: "Suffolk Police treat any allegation of sexual assault very seriously and each report is properly assessed, including the need for interview by specialist trained officers, and allocated to an officer for investigation.

"In 2005 we opened three victim care centres in the county to provide dedicated detective and specialist trained staff to deal with both adult and child victims of such offences.

"Some of the offences will relate to adults coming forward to report abuse that occurred when they were children and the majority will be where the offender is known to the victim - a family member or acquaintance.

“We believe the number of reports reflects an increased confidence that victims will be taken seriously and that we are better placed to look after their needs and effectively investigate the allegations."

n Helplines - Childline 0800 1111 or adults concerned about children should telephone 0808 800 5000.