CHILD protection is a “priority” say police after new figures showed 180 sexual offences were committed against youngsters in Derbyshire last year.
The NSPCC data reveals the number of such crimes – ranging from indecent exposure to incest and rape – recorded by Derbyshire Constabulary in 2009-10. Most victims were aged between 12 to 15 years old but two were under four.
A Derbyshire Constabulary spokesman said: “Public protection, particularly the protection of children, is a priority within the force.
“The number of officers who work in this arena has been boosted over the past two years.”
For the first time the figures, annually obtained from forces nationwide by the charity, show the number of young people accused of committing child sex offences. Of the known suspects in Derbyshire, 38 were aged under 18.
The NSPCC is launching new schemes to prevent young people from sexually harming others.
Fiona Richards, head of region for the East Midlands, said: “It’s clear we need more services that address the harmful sexual behaviour of young people as well as adult offenders.”
But police pointed out that only 25 offences from the 180 involved an offender aged 16 or under. In most cases they were a similar age to the victim.
“There are only a few cases of very young children who are the victims of teenage offenders,” added the spokesman.
Nationally the figures show a rise in the number of recorded offences across England and Wales.
Ms Richards added: “Thousands of people come forward every year to report sex crimes against children. But many victims are too young to ask for help. Others are too scared to tell anyone about their suffering until years later.
“The rise is a real concern and we need to find ways to help victims and change the behaviour of young offenders.
“We urge everyone to be vigilant and report any concerns they have about a child.”
Adults can call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000 or text 88858. Children can call ChildLine on 0800 111 or visit www.childline.org.uk.