Andy Woodward says police interview delay over abuse claims is 'shocking'

Andy Woodward
Former footballers including Andy Woodward have launched The Offside Trust to help victims of abuse

Ex-footballer Andy Woodward says it is "shocking" he is still waiting to give police information about the alleged sexual abuse he suffered as a junior.

Last month he became the first player to speak publicly about being sexually abused as a boy at Crewe in the 1980s.

There are now 155 suspects in the UK-wide football child abuse scandal.

Woodward said he gave police further information five weeks ago, but has "still not provided statements despite my continual requests to do so".

On Twitter he wrote: "People should know I suffered more than one abuser.

"I've now been waiting five weeks to provide my statement with the police, for further abuse on me.

"I've not mentioned it before now but it hurts. I need to let go of that pain, yet still waiting."

He later told BBC Sport that police had now said they would visit him next week - but called the delay "shocking".

Police say there are now 429 potential victims linked to football, some as young as four at the time of the alleged offence, and 148 clubs are now involved.

Woodward, who is also a former police officer, has launched an independent trust to help other abuse victims "fight for justice".

The National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) set up Operation Hydrant to oversee investigations of "non-recent" child sex abuse within institutions or by people of public prominence.

The spotlight has fallen on abuse in football since a a number of former footballers came forward publicly to tell their stories, and the number of suspects has almost doubled in a fortnight.

In a statement on Wednesday, Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the NPCC lead on child abuse, said allegations received by police across the country "were being swiftly acted upon", but acknowledged that a "higher than usual" volume of calls was causing delays.

The latest figures from the NPCC, released on Wednesday, show there have been 819 referrals from police forces and a special helpline set up for victims of abuse in football.

Chief Constable Bailey, said: "The numbers keep growing. We are dealing with some of the most complex investigations you can imagine.

"We are dealing with incredibly sensitive matters, sometimes in very high profile cases and of course all those factors create a huge challenge for the service."

The official overall Operation Hydrant statistics show there were 3,469 suspects of historical child abuse under investigation as of December 2016. This compares with 1,433 in May 2015.

Among the overall statistics for child sex abuse there are 366 people of public prominence - including 162 from TV, film or radio - under investigation.

There were 3,531 people classed as victims, of which 2,604 (74%) were male and 899 (25%) were female. A further 28 victims were of unknown sex.

In November 2016 there were 26 sports institutions under investigation. That figure has since increased to 74.

Mr Bailey urged victims of child sexual abuse to report it by dialling 101 or contacting the dedicated NSPCC helpline for those abused in football, "regardless of how long ago the abuse may have taken place".

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

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