SHOCKING figures have revealed that the number of reported child sex offences in Cumbria has soared by more than 60 per cent in a year.
Cumbria Police recorded a total of 429 sexual offences against under 18s in 2014/2015 - up from 263 the previous year.
This equates to a 63.12 per cent increase.
Among the crimes where the gender of the victim was recorded, 300 were female and 129 were male.
These figures have been released by the NSPCC.
Temporary Detective Inspector at Cumbria Police Brian Murray thinks its important to raise awareness of child sex offences.
He said: "People may think that because Cumbria has a low crime rate that child sex abuse cannot happen here.
“Cumbria Police and partners have undertaken a lot of work to highlight the topic and give people the knowledge to recognise the possible signs of exploitation, and to give them confidence in the level of service they will receive, which has led to an increase in the reporting of the crimes.
"I would continue to urge anyone who may be in danger or is worried about someone they know being groomed or suffering abuse, to get in touch with someone – whether that is via an anonymous helpline or a trusted adult."
Cumbria’s new Sexual Assault Service, The Bridgeway, also offers victims another avenue of support if they need it, and can be accessed 24/7.
Det Insp Murray added: "The statistics also reflect a change in how child on child crimes are recorded, and almost a third of the offenders or suspects are under the age of 18."
Nationally the number of reported child sex offences has risen by a third - the equivalent of more than 113 per day.
NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: "This dramatic rise is deeply worrying and shows just how extensive this appalling crime has become, claiming many victims every day, every hour.
"Sexual abuse can shatter a child's mental health. It can leave them anxious, depressed and even suicidal. That is why it is crucial every single child who has endured abuse and needs support must get timely, thorough help so they can learn how to handle disturbing emotions and behaviours and rebuild their lives." Amen!