Reports of sex crimes against Devon and Cornwall children up 25%

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Reports of sexual crimes against children have risen by more than 25% in Devon and Cornwall over the last five years, it has emerged.

Cases rose from 784 in 2010 to 992 in 2014 according to a Freedom of Information request.

Alleged rapes against under 18s recorded by Devon and Cornwall Police rose by more than 31%, from 215 cases to 282 over the same period.

The force said investigators provide the "best possible service" to victims.

Reports of sexual offences related to the year the complaint was made, not the year the offences were alleged to have happened.

Jon Brown, head of strategy and development on sexual abuse at the NSPCC, said the figures were in line with other UK forces.

Support 'critical'

He said high-profile sexual abuse cases, such as the Jimmy Savile scandal, had led to greater awareness of sex crimes against children and more reporting of them.

"We can't say whether we are looking at a quantum increase in offences against children, but we are getting nearer to an accurate figure on prevalence," he said.

"It is good news if people are feeling more able to come forward and talk about what is happening. What is critical to us is the way those complaints are handled and that those victims whose cases go to court get the support they need."

A force spokesman said: "We encourage the reporting of all sexual offences and are determined to provide the best possible service to the victims.

"We continually monitor our performance in respect of this type of crime and work hard with our partners to ensure that we constantly improve our investigations and the service we provide to victims."

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