THE number of sexual offences against children recorded in the Dyfed-Powys Police force area has risen by almost 15 per cent in the last 12 months.

A Freedom of Information request by NSPCC Cymru/Wales reveals that in 2018/19 there were 848 reported sex offences against children in Powys, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire, an increase of 110 (14.91 per cent) from the previous year.

Figures show that sexual offences, including rape, grooming and sexual assault, against children reported that were reported to Welsh police forces has risen to an all-time high, with 10 crimes taking place each day in Wales on average.

NSPCC Wales/Cymru said the country is “facing a nationwide crisis”. It is now calling for a “radical” reshaping of how support is delivered for young victims of abuse.

The charity said higher recorded sex offences do not necessarily reflect high prevalence of sex offence crimes, but could be explained by better recording, greater awareness of what abuse is, and survivors feeling more confident in coming forward. It added that children who suffered sexual abuse will often need extensive support, but overstretched services are failing to keep pace with demand.

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Des Mannion, NSPCC Cymru/Wales, said: “Record numbers of child sexual offences means we are facing a nationwide crisis in the help available for tens of thousands of children.

“These children are bravely disclosing what happened to them but in too many cases there is not enough timely, joined up and child-friendly support.”

Earlier this summer, the Welsh Government published its ‘National Action Plan on Preventing and Responding to Child Sexual Abuse’ – a strategy designed to keep children safe from abuse while offering support to survivors. NSPCC Cymru/Wales said it welcomes the Welsh Government’s plan to tackle child sexual abuse.

“The Welsh Government’s ‘National Action Plan on Preventing and Responding to Child Sexual Abuse’ is something which NSPCC Cymru/Wales has long called for. The way in which it is looking at how support services are being provided to children and young people is a bold and highly-promising development,” said Mr Mannion.

“We need a radical rethink in the way we help these young people, otherwise they could struggle for the rest of their lives with long term, deep seated trauma.”

In 2018/19, Childline counsellors delivered 394 counselling sessions to children and young people from Wales who spoke to the free and confidential NSPCC-supported service about sexual abuse and online sexual abuse.

Children can contact Childline 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by calling 0800 1111