At least 25 child rapes a week were reported to our region’s police forces last year – but too few survivors will see justice, The Northern Echo found.

Childhood rape is devastating lives across the North East and North Yorkshire but a lack of specialist support leaves many traumatised youngsters feeling unable to support investigations, experts say.

Just last year, forces in the region tackled 1,308 reports of child rape – and nearly half of those cases involved children who were under 13 when the offence was allegedly committed.

Read more: Here's what our forces are doing to tackle child abuse cases

Those reports – some of which may relate to historic abuse – are among almost 9,000 logged in a decade.

Echo analysis of Home Office figures found child rape reports have more than tripled since 2012-13, when comparable records began.  That year, 375 cases were recorded.

The Northern Echo:

Police and charities suggest improved recording methods, increased confidence in reporting and heightened awareness of child abuse may have contributed to the stark rise.

However, the NSPCC said the increase uncovered by the Echo is “highly concerning”, as is the charge rate for the offence.

Of 1,071 cases closed in 2021-22, 117 resulted in a charge or summons to court – a charge rate of 11%.

More than two-thirds of the investigations were dropped due to difficulties gathering evidence, with victims withdrawing support in more than 500 cases.

The Lucy Faithfull Foundation said the criminal justice process could be overwhelming and invasive – and coupled with trauma, stigma and fear, could be contributing to victims retracting abuse disclosures.

The charity, dedicated to preventing child sexual abuse, joined the NSPCC and Barnardo’s in calling for better support for young rape victims.

Read more: Charities call for better victim support for abused children

Police employ specially trained officers and use special measures and trained intermediaries to support children and their families during investigations and throughout the criminal justice process.

But spokespeople for the region’s forces said there are many reasons why survivors feel unable to support investigations.

Cleveland Police is currently working proactively with victims to identify and respond to any emerging themes.

DS Fi Wynne from North Yorkshire Police said investigations could be intrusive and the prosecution process lengthy.

She added: “Even though special measures are available, which means children do not have to attend court to give evidence, the whole experience of going through a medical examination, providing a video recorded interview, or having their mobile phone examined can feel too much.”

DS Wynne joined other forces in urging survivors to come forward, saying all reports will be investigated.

DI John Connolly of Northumbria Police said the force had the tools to catch predators, adding: “Anyone who does come forward will be listened to and supported.

“We will work relentlessly to bring offenders to justice.”

Barnardo’s and the NSPCC called on the Government to ensure its new Victims Bill gives child victims guaranteed access to specialist support.

Barnardo’s CEO Lynn Perry said abused children often miss out on the timely specialist support they need to recover.

She added: “This support is especially important in empowering young victims to report these horrific crimes, and to cope during the police investigation and court case that may follow.”

Pierre Hyman from the NSPCC said some survivors are left so traumatised by a lack of support during legal investigations that they feel unable to go through with a trial.

The charities joined police in urging victims to speak out and seek support, with Sian Meader from the Stop It Now! helpline – run by the Lucy Faithfull Foundation – urging adults to believe, support and protect children making disclosures.

A Home Office spokesman said the Government is leaving “no stone unturned” in its efforts to prevent and pursue child sex abusers and had funded programmes and dedicated support services for survivors of sexual abuse.


Abuse can be reported by contacting the police, children’s social services teams or online via the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre.

To get confidential support about what to do if you suspect abuse, contact the Stop It Now! helpline or the NSPCC helpline.

Children can contact Childline on 0800 1111.