Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Crime Statistics Show 'Dark Underbelly of Abuse' against Children

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Crime Statistics Show 'Dark Underbelly of Abuse' against Children

Article excerpt

Byline: Naomi Corrigan Reporter

REPORTED sex crimes against Teesside children have more than trebled in the past three years, grim figures show.

The NSPCC said investigations have exposed "a dark underbelly of abuse".

And following the publication of the latest crime figures for the Cleveland Police force area, the children's charity urged other victims to come forward.

The spokeswoman for the NSPCC said abuse has gone on for "far too long with the impact only now becoming tragically clear".

She added: "Sexual abuse has a devastating impact on a child, and we urge all victims to come forward as soon as possible so they can get the support they need and offenders can be brought to justice."

In 2012/2013, there were 195 sexual offences against under-16s reported across the area. In just three years, this number has risen to 599 offences.

In the same time period there has also been an 180% increase in reported child rapes, and a 146% increase in sexual offences against those aged under 13.

The figures were published yesterday by the Office of National Statistics.

More than 48,000 offences, excluding fraud, were recorded by Cleveland Police in the year to March 2016, 15% higher than in the same period last year.

This was nearly double the national average increase and the tenth largest rise for any police force in England and Wales.

There were six homicides across the force area which covers Middlesbrough, Stockton, Redcar and Cleveland and Hartlepool.

These included the killing of 24-year-old Shane Tunney in Norton, and the alleged murders of Redcar women Lynne Freeman and Jodie Betteridge, Lee Pettite, Lawrence French and 79-yearold Hartlepool widow Norma Bell.

The figures show the largest increase recorded by Cleveland Police came in the 'violence without injury' category. …

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