Reports of Abuse Up in the UK, but Arrests Down

Sadly, that is the headline of a Guardian story where data from individual police districts were examined.

There has been a 60% increase in child sexual abuse reported to the police over the past four years, according to official figures which make public for the first time the scale of the problem in England and Wales.

A House of Commons library analysis based on freedom of information releases by individual forces shows that the number of offences of child sexual abuse reported to the police has soared from 5,557 cases in 2011 to 8,892 last year.

Child sexual abuse includes grooming, facilitating abuse and child rape.

At the same time the number of arrests for child sexual abuse offences in England and Wales has fallen from 3,511 in 2011 to 3,208 – a drop of 9%.

The 60 percent rise is both shocking, and gratifying, if that’s possible. It’s indeed sad that there are that many victims out there who’ve been silent up until now, but it’s also gratifying that victims are speaking out more than they used to. That means the message about speaking out, saying something to someone, etc. is getting out there.

But, if all of these police reports don’t result in any arrests, I fear that victims will go right back to not speaking out again. After all, what is the point of filing a police report if not to get someone arrested and charges made against them? Having claims of child abuse lead to no action by the police will not encourage the next victim to come forward.

For those of you in the UK, what do you think is the problem here? Are the increased reports creating a backlog, leading to no action being taken, are they unreliable, or outdated? What needs to happen to get the larger number of reports resulting in more legal action?

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