Devon

Child sex abuse cases increase by 50% across Devon

The number of child sex abuse cases have doubled in some parts of Devon in the past two years.

Figures from Devon and Cornwall Police show a 100% rise in reported incidents in Torbay and Exeter. Across the whole of Devon there was a 51% increase.

The NHS in Devon and Torbay is to set up a £1.2m three-year service to help young survivors of abuse.

Specialist staff will carry out medical examinations, gather evidence and provide continuing support.

Police figures show the number of recorded cases in Torbay rose from 27 in 2008-9 to 55 in 2009-10.

'Move forward'

The figures were collated before Operation Mansfield - the force's investigation into child sex abuse in Torbay which began in February this year.

In Exeter over the same period, the figures rose from 19 to 41, while in Plymouth they rose from 49 to 74.

John Clements, from police child protection, told BBC News the increase in cases did not necessarily mean more children were being abused, but was more likely to be because adults were spotting the signs earlier.

NHS Devon also said the increase in reported cases was likely to be as a result of raised awareness, improved staff training to encourage reporting and a better provision of services.

A former abuse victim who, as an adult, still attends a support group in Plymouth said he welcomed the NHS plans.

He said his experience had resulted in feelings of despair, guilt and loneliness and made him "over protective" as a father.

"You'll never come to terms with it, but being able to deal with it with support can help you move forward with your life," he said.

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