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Latest figures on child sexual abuse in England and Wales

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released its latest statistics on the prevalence of child sexual abuse in England and Wales, bringing together a range of different data sources from across government and the voluntary sector.

Its main points are:

  • The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) estimates that 7.5% of adults aged 18 to 74 years experienced sexual abuse before the age of 16 years (3.1 million people); this includes both adult and child perpetrators.
  • The abuse was most likely to have been perpetrated by a friend or acquaintance (37%); around a third (30%) were sexually abused by a stranger.
  • The majority of victims did not tell anyone about their sexual abuse at the time, with 'embarrassment' being the most common reason.
  • In the year ending March 2019, the police in England and Wales recorded 73,260 sexual offences where there are data to identify the victim was a child.
  • On 31 March 2019, 2,230 children in England were the subject of a child protection plan (CPP) and 120 children in Wales were on the child protection register (CPR) for experience or risk of sexual abuse.

Katie Russell, national spokesperson for Rape Crisis England & Wales said:

“Victims and survivors of child sexual abuse have long made up a significant proportion of those who access specialist Rape Crisis services.

Our frontline experience bears out the ONS finding that the vast majority of those subjected to sexual abuse as children tell no-one at the time. Three-quarters of our service users come to us for support around something that happened a year or more ago, many of whom are adult survivors of child sexual abuse.

Last year, our Rape Crisis network provided 732,184 sessions of specialist counselling, support and advocacy to 79,391 individuals, 34% of whom were aged under 25. Nearly 4,000 were aged 15 and under – a 22% increase on the previous year – and we saw a 50% increase in children telling us about multiple incidents of sexual abuse.

Through over 40 years experience of providing specialist services, Rape Crisis knows well the wide-ranging, long-term and often lifelong impacts child sexual abuse can have on lives, health and relationships. Statistics like those released by the ONS today help make the case for sustainably funded, trauma-informed, specialist, independent services for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse”.