NSPCC reports surge in abuse of trust crimes in Cambridgeshire

PUBLISHED: 14:01 12 December 2017

Abuse of position cases have increased in Cambridgeshire. Picture: NSPCC.

Abuse of position cases have increased in Cambridgeshire. Picture: NSPCC.

Archant

Sex crimes committed by adults in positions of trust have risen more than five-fold in Cambridgeshire since 2014, figures published by the NSPCC have revealed.

The number of offences in which professionals such as teachers, care staff and youth justice workers targeted 16 and 17-year-olds in their care for sex rose to 22 in the year to June, up from four incidents in 2014.

According to the children’s charity, there have been 37 crimes recorded in Cambridgeshire between June 2013 and June 2017, the most in any county in the East of England in the same period.

Across England and Wales there was an 82 per cent rise over the four years, with nearly 1,000 incidents since 2014.

Position of trust laws don’t currently apply to other adults working with young people, but the Government this month announced it plans to extend legislation to cover sports coaches.

The NSPCC’s #TrustToLead campaign is urging Government to go further and extend the law to cover all adults working regularly with children, including religious leaders, adults working in the arts, outdoor pursuits and other activities.

The current loophole means adults with regular contact with children in extra-curricular activities are able to groom them from a young age, and abuse that trusting relationship to have sexual contact as soon as the child turns 16.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: “It’s hard to believe that the law protects 16 and 17-year-old children from being preyed upon in the classroom, but not on the sports pitch or on the stage.

“We know that some adult youth workers spend years grooming young people and then, as soon as their 16th birthday comes around, they target them for sex.

“Extending position of trust laws to sports coaches is an important step in the right direction which will help protect more children from this kind of abuse. But to stop there would be a missed opportunity.

“Government must close this loophole to protect children from other adults who use their authority to exploit them.”

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