The Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse has published its latest report - Child Sexual Abuse in 2020/21: Trends in official data. In this report, the CSA Centre has collated the available official service data from child protection, police, health and criminal justice on the current scale and response to child sexual abuse in England and Wales. The report is available on their website now.
This report highlights ongoing trends, including the growing gap between what surveys show to be the prevalence of child sexual abuse, and what is being seen in service data as identified and recorded. A conservative estimate is that one in ten children and young people will experience some form of child sexual abuse before the age of 16. A figure substantially different to the far lower numbers seen in service data –across police, and local authority assessments.
- Nearly two thirds of local authorities in England – including the majority of those in Inner London – placed five children or fewer
- Half of all local authorities in Wales placed no, or very few children on a child protection plan under the category of sexual abuse.
- In policing, forces differed threefold in the rate of recorded child sexual abuse offences relative to the size of their child population.
- Data from Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARC) also varies widely across the seven health regions, with London having the lowest and South-West the highest reach among under-18s.
This gap is of significant concern and our analysis this year highlights a concerning inconsistency of identification and response to child sexual abuse between local areas across England and Wales. Although it is tempting to think low numbers could indicate areas not having cases of child sexual abuse, prevalence data shows that this is simply not likely to be the case.
Regional Safeguarding Boards in Wales require their professional teams to have the knowledge, skills and confidence to identify and name child sexual abuse, the training to understand it and for data to be collected in a way that it can better inform how to address the causes and intervene. Additionally, understanding what local, regional and national service data tells us about our response to child sexual abuse is an essential component of an effective strategic response to tackling child sexual abuse.
The CSA Centre will use this report in their continued efforts to support the work of local, regional and national safeguarding partners across Wales and England. The report and this work is supported by a new and updated set of infographics which are also available to download from their website.
Posted on Thursday 12th May 2022