Stevenage tops child sex offences records in Hertfordshire

A TOWN in Comet country has the highest number of recorded sex offences against children across all police divisions in the county, new figures have revealed.

Hertfordshire Police recorded 53 offences in Stevenage between 2009-2010, more than the nine other neighbouring divisions which include Watford, Welwyn Hatfield, Dacorum and East Herts.

In North Herts there were 30 offences recorded - the second lowest of the 10 areas.

Children’s charity the NSPCC used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain data from all 43 police forces in England and Wales, with a total of 373 offences recorded county-wide, including rape, incest and gross indecency.

Most reports concerning children aged 12 to 15-years-old but 11 victims in the region were pre-school age and 55 were aged 11 or under.

Bedfordshire Police recording 210 sex offences in the same period with London’s Metropolitan force reporting the largest number of crimes - 3,672 - followed by West Midlands with 1,531.

Across England and Wales more than 23,000 offences were recorded - an eight per cent increase on last year - with girls around six times more likely to be sexually assaulted than boys.

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Dan Russell, NSPCC regional head of service for Hertfordshire, said: “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 in recorded sex offences against children is a real concern and we need to find ways to help victims and change the behaviour of young offenders.

“It’s clear we need more services that address the harmful sexual behaviour of young people, as well as adult offenders. We urge everyone to be vigilant and report any concerns they have about a child.”

A spokesman for Hertfordshire Constabulary said: “Hertfordshire Constabulary treats child sexual abuse offences extremely seriously and is committed to protecting children from harm in the county.

“In Hertfordshire we have specialist units aimed at investigating child abuse and bringing offenders to justice.

These dedicated officers are trained to identify and work with those children and young people who are victims and provide them with the support and services that are required.”

Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Child Abuse Investigation Unit can be contacted on 0845 33 00 222. In an emergency dial 999.

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