The number of sexual offences against children reported to police across Scotland reached almost 2,500 last year, according to new figures.
They include cases of rape, sexual assault, sexual activity and communicating indecently. NSPCC Scotland, which obtained the figures, warned the number might only be “a fraction of the true amount” as many others could be afraid to speak up.
The charity sent a Freedom of Information (FoI) request to police forces across the UK covering the period April 2014 until March 2015. The statistics showed a total of 2,483 offences were reported to Police Scotland – seven a day – with those recorded against girls being significantly higher than that of boys.
For example, there were 323 sex assaults of females aged between 13-15 compared to 35 for males of the same age.
Police Scotland has also confirmed that round 40 per cent of all recorded child sex offences are “non-recent.”
Matt Forde, the charity’s head of service in Scotland, said: “The reality that right now seven children are being abused every day is an appalling one and shows that there is a desperate need to support children who have suffered from sexual abuse. For too many children, our court system adds further trauma to their earlier experiences of abuse. We welcome proposals to reform our legal system.”
Throughout the UK, the total reported child sex offences for 2014-15 was 45,456 - the equivalent of more than 124 per day, or more than five per hour.
Detective Chief Superintendent Lesley Boal, Police Scotland’s lead for public protection, said: “We are aware that many children, for a whole host of reasons, may not initially disclose they have been abused and the true extent of child sexual abuse taking place in Scotland now is unknown.
“Police Scotland would support the development of a child-centred Scottish model that would meet the needs of children in all communities across the country.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “This Government is committed to tackling offences against children and it is extremely encouraging to see recent figures which show more convictions for those who sexually abuse and harm children.”