CHILD sexual abuse has risen in Wiltshire in the past five years, a report has revealed.

Children’s charity NSPCC highlighted in a recent report that child sexual offences went from 372 reported crime in 2014-2015 to 580 in 2019-2020 in Wiltshire.

Coun Mary Martin, Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, said: “Our children today face a number of challenges to their safety and wellbeing.

"Being drawn into exploitative situations, where children can be both victims and perpetrators of serious harm, can have severe consequences for them and for their families, friends and communities.

“The council is determined to ensure that children and young people at risk of exploitation are identified at the earliest opportunity and appropriate support offered to the young person and their family.

“In Swindon we have robust systems in place to help identify young people at risk of harm.”

Wiltshire Police have worked with both local authorities under the gemstone brand in order to help tackle child criminal exploitation, which is one strand of the overall work in relation to child sexual abuse.

In Swindon, the team is known as Opal and works from Wat Tyler House.

Det Supt Ben Mant, head of Wiltshire Police’s public protection department said: “We welcome which not only highlights the need for ongoing awareness of the awful act of child abuse but which also supports and encourages children to report these incidents.

“The increase may sound alarming but it reflects the work that has taken place across the county to improve awareness of the signs of sexual abuse and to encourage reporting to the police and our partner agencies.

“We know that most children spent more time at home during lockdown and we have been planning, with our partners, for an anticipated increase in demand when the schools return in September.”