The NSPCC have today reported that the number of recorded sexual offences against children in England and Wales has risen by a third.
In the year up to April 2014 there was an increase in the number of reported offences rising by 8,500 to a total level of 31,000. In our specialist Abuse Department at Farleys Solicitors we have seen an even bigger proportionate rise in the number of new enquiries over this period both in relation to child and adult abuse victims.
The figures, however, should not be misleading. It is not necessarily the case that more children are being abused and I suspect that the truth is that victims are now more willing to come forward. In the aftermath of Saville, Rochdale, Rotherham and Oxford the public are now far more aware of this crime and victims are more willing to come forward and speak out against their abusers and also to contact Solicitors who can help with civil claims and/or claims for compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.
Child abuse can often result in long term psychological problems which sometimes prevent the abused coming forward for years and even decades. We need to continue to encourage victims to engage with the various support networks available but I still suspect that the number of reported cases of abuse are the tip of the iceberg and cannot serve as a true representation of the extent of the problem.
In the last month I have received new instructions from victims of both the Rochdale abuse gangs and from a client who was abused at Stone Cross School. Both of these have received widespread local and national publicity over a number of years yet only now have the victims felt strong enough to talk to me about their ordeals and provide instructions to bring a claim.
Abuse is a complex area and you should exercise extreme caution in putting too much emphasis on the number of reported cases.
If you have been the victim of abuse and wish to discuss in confidence how our specialist Abuse Team can assist please do not hesitate to contact us on 0845 050 1958, alternatively please complete an online enquiry form. We also run an anonymous online chat facility, for further information, click here.