POLICE in the West Midlands recorded more than four sex crimes against children, some as young as one, every day last year.
Statistics obtained by childrens’ charity NSPCC discovered there were 1,572 alleged sex crimes involving under-18s reported to officers in 2008. In more than one in three cases, the victims were under 10. There were 38 victims aged three, 15 aged two and seven aged one.
Nationally there were 20,758 alleged sex crimes involving under-18s reported to police.
The horrifying levels of abuse were uncovered following Freedom of Information requests to all of England and Wales’s 43 police forces. All but Greater Manchester Police responded.
This is the first time the charity has compiled the figures.
Experts warned that the figures could be just the tip of the iceberg.
NSPCC director of public policy Phillip Noyes said: “These shocking figures reveal just how young many of the reported victims of sex abuse are, with even one-year-olds being at risk, although the highest numbers of offences were against children in their early teens.
“It’s a grim picture but this is only a snapshot, as our research indicates there are many more abused children whose suffering never comes to light.
“It’s difficult to get a clear understanding of how many child sex abuse victims there are. If we are able to get these details every year it will start to build a more accurate picture and we can make more concerted efforts to protect children.”
Staffordshire Police recorded 458 victims, with 60 aged 10 or under. There were five aged three and three aged two; Warwickshire Police had 78 victims, with 23 aged 10 or under and West Mercia recorded 488 victims, with 79 aged 10 or under.
A spokesman for West Midlands Police said: “We would urge any victims of sexual assault to contact us or someone they have confidence in as a matter or urgency.
“We have highly trained and sensitive officers with links to all the voluntary agencies waiting to offer the highest level of emotional and medical support. In the case of younger children we would implore any adult with the slightest suspicion to do the right thing and get in touch with us either directly or anonymously via Crimestoppers.”