Football child abuse scandal: Police identify 155 suspects

Boys playing football Image copyright Thinkstock

The number of suspects in the UK-wide football child abuse scandal has reached 155, the National Police Chiefs' Council has announced.

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

Separate figures show the number of historical child abuse suspects across all walks of life stands at 3,469.

This is more than double the figure of 18 months earlier.

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.

Child sex abuse in football


potential victims


potential suspects

  • 1,016 referrals to Operation Hydrant from police forces and NSPCC helpline

  • 248 football clubs impacted from Premier League to amateur

  • 4 to 20 years age range of victims at the time of alleged abuse

  • 98% of potential victims are male


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

Norfolk Police Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the NPCC lead on child abuse, 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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