‘Toxic mix’ of porn and cuts cause rise in Sheffield child sex crime

Sarah Champion
Sarah Champion
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Another surge in child sex crime across Sheffield is down to a ‘toxic mix’ of online porn, police cuts and educational issues, a leading campaigner has said.

New figures have shown there were 1,589 reports of child sex offences in Sheffield between April 2013 and March 2016.

Sheffield. Picture: Andrew Roe

Sheffield. Picture: Andrew Roe

That includes 499 reports of sexual activity with children under 16, and 168 with children under 13, up by 46 per cent in 2015-16 compared with 2014-15.

There were also 725 reports of sex assaults on girls in the past three years in Sheffield, with a 42 per cent rise in attacks on children aged over 13. Rapes against adult women also increased by 12 per cent.

Rotherham MP Sarah Champion, a campaigner against child sexual exploitation, called for action to address the underlying causes of CSE.

“Young people who aren’t getting a healthy relationship education are going on the internet and seeing pretty brutal online porn images. This issue is hugely influential in the rise of sex crime. Children need to see porn in context – that it is fiction.”

She also said the community needed to be more aware of the issues and take more ‘personal responsibility.’

Police and support cuts were a contributing factor, she added: “It isn’t only frontline officers that have been reduced, but specialist services too, including domestic violence.

“There is a very toxic mix going on at the moment. I’m not optimistic. I’m genuinely scared that unless there is real change, including government support, and the community creating more support, we are going to be in a dark place very quickly.”

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings said increases could be due to victims having increased confidence to report offences, and said the county’s force needed to be more aware of online grooming.

Supt Shaun Morley said he viewed the figures as ‘healthy’. “People are reporting it. We have invested a great deal of resource to prosecute these crimes and we are dedicated to supporting the vulnerable victims of sex crime.”