UK

Football child abuse suspects put at more than 250

children playing football Image copyright Getty Images

So far 252 potential suspects and 560 victims have been identified by officers investigating child sex abuse within football in the UK, police say.

Some 311 football clubs, spanning all tiers of the game, are involved in the inquiry, called Operation Hydrant.

The ages of the victims - 96% of whom are male - span from four to 20.

A hotline was set up to report abuse last year when a number of ex-footballers said they had been victims as youngsters.

The investigation is being co-ordinated by the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC).

Calls to hotline

In its last update in January, the number of victims stood at 526, while the number of potential suspects stood at 184.

Police forces across the UK have received an increased number of calls from victims and from people offering information since the hotline was set up.

The NPCC said 25 referrals to the inquiry related to sports other than football.

These have included rugby, gymnastics, martial arts, tennis, wrestling, golf, sailing, athletics, cricket and swimming.

While the number of referrals being received is beginning to decline, the NPCC is continuing to urge anyone who may have been a victim of child sexual abuse to come forward.

The Football Association has also begun an independent review, led by Clive Sheldon QC, into its handling of abuse allegations in the years prior to 2005.

The hotline set up by the NSPCC is available 24 hours a day on 0800 0232642.

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