Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Analysis Launched
For the first time, a new report from the Vulnerability Knowledge and Practice Programme (VKPP) sets out publicly a clear, detailed picture of reported Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation (CSAE) crimes across England and Wales.
Based on datasets collected from 42 police forces, this national snapshot gives insight and analysis into the scale and nature of CSAE, trends in offending, including crime types, where they were committed, and presents profiles of both victims and perpetrators.
The analysis sets out the consistent growth in CSAE reported to police with 107,000 crimes reported to policing a figure that has risen significantly in the last ten years ago. More than half of CSAE offences were committed by children, a significant increase from what was previously known. The report also shows that over a third of CSAE contact crimes take place within the family environment. Group-based CSAE accounts for 5% of all identified and reported CSAE.
It is known that there is significant under-reporting of these crimes, but policing recognises the value of presenting a known baseline of recorded abuse and harm taking place against children, to inform future understanding.
The report tells us:
There were around 107,000 offences reported in 2022 – a 7.6% increase compared to 2021, nearly quadruple what it is was 10 years ago. Evidence continues to suggest many crimes remains unreported.
Around 75% of CSAE offences related to sexual offences committed directly against children, and around 25% relate to online offences ofIndecent Images of Children.
The crime types regarding CSAE are changing. For example, historically Child-on-Child abuse accounted for around third of offences. The data in the report suggests that today this is just over half.
CSAE within the family environment remains a common form of reported abuse, accounting for an estimated 33% of reported contact CSAE crime. Parents and siblings were the two most common relationships featuring.
Group-based CSAE accounts for 5% of all identified and reported CSAE ranging from unorganised peer group sharing of imagery, to more organised complex high harm cases with high community impact.
Reported CSAE is heavily gendered, as expected, with males (82% of all CSAE perpetrators) predominantly abusing females (79% of victims). Sexual offending involving male victims are more common in offences involving indecent images and younger children.
The number of recorded incidents of Online Sexual Abuse continues to grow.It accounts for at least 32% of CSAE.
52% of all CSAE cases involved reports of children (aged 10 to 17) offending against other children with 14 being the most common age. This is a growing and concerning trend involving a wide range of offending. Whilst some include exploratory online sexual behaviours, some of the most prevalent forms include serious sexual assaults, including rape.
Ian Critchley QPM, NPCC lead Child Abuse Protection and Investigation said:
“Child abuse is an appalling crime, and this analysis helps us understand more widely the growing challenges we are all facing nationally not least young people growing up today. We also know that sadly reported crime remains significantly lower than the actual crimes of child abuse that take place with the Independent Inquiry reporting 1 in 6 girls and 1 in 20 boys will be abused in childhood, an appalling statistic and one we must all seek to change. This analysis will help police and our partners develop and improve our prevention, disruption, and investigation of these appalling crimes against children. Whilst policing has made significant developments in its approach to tackling child sexual abuse this analysis enables us to review current approaches, continually adapting and developing our service and ensuring that the voices of children and victims are at the heart of everything we do.
“Our collective offer must be to prioritise prevention - we must stop abuse happening, preventing the lifelong physical and mental harm it causes. We must give confidence to victims to come forward whether abused yesterday or many years ago, confident that they will receive a service that is of the utmost professionalism wrapped in care and compassion and we must relentlessly bring more offenders of these abhorrent crimes to justice, whilst taking due care not to criminalise young people when it is not warranted.
“Tackling CSAE is a collaborative effort and requires police, partners and the public to work together to prevent harm, pursue offenders and protect children in a changing world.”
Wendy Hart, Deputy Director for Child Sexual Abuse at the National Crime Agency, said:
“As this report shows, the scale of child sexual abuse continues to increase year on year. It highlights that this is a largely hidden crime, and the NCA estimates that there are up to 830,000 adults in the UK that pose some degree of sexual risk to children.
“We also know from our collective analysis that the severity of offending has increased, as have the complexities faced by law enforcement in tackling it. We are now seeing hyper-realistic images and videos of abuse being created using artificial intelligence, for example, while the rollout of end-to-end encryption by technology platforms makes it a lot more difficult for us to protect children.
“Alongside our policing partners and Ofcom, we are working closely with industry to ensure platforms have adequate safety measures designed in, and that our collective ability to tackle the threat keeps pace with technology.
“With over half of reported crimes involving child on child abuse, there has never been a greater need for education is in this space. Children, parents, carers and professionals can find information, resources and advice produced by the NCA’s dedicated education programme at www.thinkuknow.co.uk.”