Surge in child sex abuse reports
Reports of child sex abuse have risen by more than 60% in the last four years, new figures suggest.
Freedom of Information data obtained by shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper show there were 8,892 reports to police forces in 2014, up from 5,557 in 2011, according to the Guardian newspaper.
But over the same period the number of arrests for child sex offences fell by 9%, from 3,511 in 2011 to 3,208 last year.
Ms Cooper said the scale of the issue was a "national scandal".
She told the paper: "This isn't a problem from the past. It is a growing problem the Government should be confronting right now.
"Victims of child sex abuse are being let down when alongside a 60% increase in reports there has been a 9% drop in arrests for child sex abuse, as well as falling prosecutions and convictions for child abuse offences as the police are unable to keep up."
The data, based on responses from 33 of 41 forces in England and Wales, showed South Yorkshire Police with the biggest rise in reported cases, the paper said, with a 577% increase from 74 in 2011 to 501 in 2014.
But arrests for the offence by that force rose from 50 four years ago to 57 last year. Meanwhile, Thames Valley Police made 191 arrests in relation to child sex abuse - up from just 13 in 2011.
Alan Wardle, NSPCC head of policy and public affairs, said: "In recent years there has been a huge increase in awareness of child sexual abuse and it's good that more people are coming forward.
"Since the Operation Yewtree police investigation was launched in 2012, the NSPCC helpline has seen a huge rise in the number of victims willing to speak out, get support and help bring abusers to justice. In the year after Yewtree was launched there was an 81% increase in calls about sexual abuse to the NSPCC helpline and this surge continues.
"When children take the extremely difficult step of reporting abuse we need to ensure they are properly supported and get the help they need when they are brave enough to give evidence in court."