The number of child sex offences recorded by Lincolnshire Police rose to 738 last year – an average of just over two a day – according to new figures obtained by the NSPCC.
This represented a 23 per cent rise from 598 offences in 2014/15.
The number of child sex offences reported to police throughout the UK rose by a fifth to a record 55,507 last year, with recorded crimes including rape, sexual assault and sexual exploitation.
Latest statistics gained through NSPCC requests to police found officers recorded, on average, one child sex offence every ten minutes.
In Lincolnshire, over a quarter of crimes (197) were recorded against children aged ten and under, while 49 of these crimes were perpetrated against children who were too young to even attend primary school.
The NSPCC believes a number of reasons could explain the dramatic increase:
* Police forces improving recording methods.
* Survivors feeling more confident in disclosing abuse following high-profile cases.
* Online grooming becoming a major problem with predators reaching multiple children.
The total number of sex offences committed is unknown, as more children may not have come forward because they are frightened, embarrassed, or do not realise that they have been abused.
To cope with the numbers of children coming forward the NSPCC is calling for specialist training for police investigating online child abuse, effective rehabilitation for child sex offenders, and investment in early intervention services to help children recover.
The NSPCC’s “Speak Out. Stay Safe” programme visits primary schools across the UK to help children learn the signs of abuse and what to do if they have been the victim of such abuse.
In 2015/16, more than 2,000 pupils across Lincolnshire took part in a “Speak Out. Stay Safe” assembly or workshop.
The charity’s “Letting the Future In” service also provides therapy for children who have been sexually abused, and its “Protect and Respect” programme helps older children and young people who have been, or are at risk of being, sexually exploited.
NSPCC Chief Executive Peter Wanless said: “This steep rise lays bare just how extensive this appalling crime against children has become, claiming multiple victims every hour, some of whom are yet to say their first word.
“Sexual abuse can shatter a child’s life and leave them feeling ashamed, depressed, or even suicidal. Now, more than ever, victims need help as soon as possible to help them recover from their ordeals and go on to lead full and happy lives.
“Government must commit funds to early intervention that better help these children who through no fault of their own are enduring so much pain.”