Lincolnshire Police sees sexual crimes against children near 1,100-mark in 2018-19, according to NSPCC
Lincolnshire Police has seen a near 30 per cent rise in recorded sexual offences against children during the past year, new figures reveal.
In 2018-19, the county force had records of 1,081 crimes committed against under-18s, including grooming, rape and sexual assault.
This compares with 833 cases in 2017-18, according to the force's response to a Freedom of Information request from the NSPCC.
Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Taylor, head of crime for Lincolnshire Police, said: "We focus on the victims behind these figures by providing a specialised approach to our investigation so we can bring offenders to justice and safeguard children involved and prevent further harm.
"Following a crime review across the force, from January 2019 we have put additional resources into investigations covering vulnerable children and we believe this has helped with confidence in reporting offences.
"We are now, more than ever, in a position to provide a specialised approach and work together with other safeguarding agencies.
"At the same time, we continue to seek out national best practice and encourage the reporting of sexual offences against children to us or our partner agencies."
An inspection of child protection services at Lincolnshire Police by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, published in February this year, "found examples of good work by frontline officers responding to incidents involving children".
But the inspection also found that "practice and decision-making are inconsistent", with some police officers lacking in "specialist child abuse investigation training".
In response, Mr Taylor said: "There can be no stone left unturned when it comes to protecting children."
Janice Spencer, interim director of children's services for Lincolnshire County Council, said: "Together with our partners, we take any instances of sexual offences reported to us very seriously in order to provide an effective response.
"In Lincolnshire, police, children's services and health services work closely together to ensure that children and young people who have suffered sexual abuse are offered appropriate support, with a range of services depending on individual needs."
Nationally, 44 out of 45 UK police forces responded to the NSPCC which found that more than 76,000 sexual crimes against children were recorded in 2018-19.
Of these, 65,172 were reported in England and nearly 8,700 involved an online element.
NSPCC chief executive officer Peter Wanless said: "We are facing a nationwide crisis in terms of the help available for tens of thousands of children who are bravely disclosing what happened to them.
"In too many cases there is not enough timely, joined-up and child-friendly support so 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 traumas."