Child sex crime in Sheffield has increased by 600 per cent in just two years, The Star can exclusively reveal.
Offences of sexual activity with a child under 13 have risen by 600 per cent since 2012-13, while sex abuse of under 16s has risen by 400 per cent in the same period.
The figures were obtained by as part of The Star’s Your Right to Know campaign.
They also show rape is up 135 per cent, rape of a female under 13 is up 327 per cent and rape of a female under 16 is up 123 per cent.
Rotherham MP Sarah Champion said: “I really have to hope it is an increase in the reporting of the crime, not an increase in the amount of crime itself – because if it is, we are going to a dark place.
“I’m really pleased people are now coming forward. I’m quite sure the figures will be a lot lower than the real picture. The accepted figure is that only 15 per cent of girls that have been abused actually come forward.
“What I hope is that these people who have come forward will give others the courage to do so.”
There were 57 reported instances of sex with a child under 16 in 2012-13 but the figure rose by 400 per cent to 130 by 2014-15.
In 2012-13, there were three reports of sex with a child under 13, which increased seven-fold to 21 by 2014-15, a 600 per cent jump.
Rape of a female under 13 also increased by 327 per cent over three years and rape of a female under 16 rose by 123 per cent.
Sexual assault on a female over 13 increased by 20 per cent, from 144 to 173, and sex assault on a female under 13 rose by 25 per cent, from 44 to 55.
South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings said ‘traditional crimes’ like burglary and car theft were declining but ‘other emerging crimes’ were on the rise.
“Whether they are increases, or increases in willingness to report, is the big question,” he said.
“The more confident people feel about coming forward the more they will come forward, and that will be recorded, and therefore it will look like a massive increase in crime.”
A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “The rise in offences should not be interpreted as more sexual offending taking place, but rather seen as a positive indication that victims of these awful crimes now feel confident in reporting their experiences to us, knowing they will be supported and listened to.
“There are several reasons behind the increase in reports of this nature, like the increase in victim confidence.”
He said more historic sex offences were being reported nationwide.
“We must also consider the so-called Savile effect, which has resulted in a marked rise in victims reporting historic sexual offences to police across the country.”