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Child sex offences 'rise fourfold in Greater Manchester'

Child sex offences reported in Greater Manchester have increased fourfold in three years, new figures showed today with the number of known or suspected offenders doubling.

And the numbers of children identified as at risk has trebled in two years to 1,732, a new report by Stockport MP Ann Coffey said.

The region's Police and Crime Commissioner described the findings as "shocking."

The report states better training and awareness amongst the police and the public has led to significant increases in reporting offences, identification of victims and offenders and intelligence tip-offs.

'Real voices - Are they being heard?' by the MP also states the fourfold increase in identified child sex offences could still be the "tip of the iceberg" because of under-reporting, especially amongst boys.

Other key findings in the report include a doubling of the number of known or suspected child sex offenders identified, to 1,139 since 2014.

Between October 2014 and June last year police received 10,269 pieces of intelligence including anonymous public tip offs, involving child sex offences.

But the report said it can take police up to five months to examine the computers of suspected offenders due to workload pressures.

Conviction rates for child sex offences were not given in the 57-page report. Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said they were not available.

Ms Coffey said: "As the extent of the level of sexual offences, including child sexual exploitation, is revealed one still cannot fail to be shocked at the levels of sexual abuse of children in our communities. It is no longer hidden.

"Greater Manchester Police and agencies involved in the protection of children have undergone cultural changes in their approach to tackling child sexual exploitation over the past two to three years.

"This is evidenced by increased reporting of CSE (Child Sexual Exploitation) offences, increased flagging of CSE victims, offenders and crimes on the police computer and increased intelligence reports.

"This indicates a growing awareness of CSE amongst the police, statutory agencies, the community and young people themselves who appear to have increased confidence to come forward to report abuse."

Tony Lloyd, the Greater Manchester Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner who commissioned the report said: "This is an important and powerful report, which gives a true picture of the scale of child sexual exploitation in our communities.

"While the findings are shocking, it also shines a positive light on the innovative work police and other agencies are doing to tackle this issue, instilling confidence and hope in children and young people that we are here to protect and support them."

Detective Superintendent Joanne Rawlinson, from Greater Manchester Police, said: "We rely on the support from the public and their information plays a crucial role in our fight against child sexual exploitation.

"As such, the number of reports of child sexual exploitation and intelligence submissions has never been higher and I'd like to thank the public for having the confidence to come forward and help us achieve this.

"Examining computers and mobile phones can be a lengthy process and requires specific specialised skills. Given a significant proportion of grooming and other similar offences takes place online, the demand for investigations of this kind have grown at a faster rate than we've been able to recruit and train staff to interrogate devices."

More information on how to spot the signs of child sexual exploitation are available at www.itsnotokay.co.uk.

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