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Shocking data exposes English society

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LONDON: More than 21,000 child sex offences were recorded in England and Wales last year, according to police figures released on Monday and described by a charity as "shocking".

An average of 60 cases of abuse against children, which included rape, gross indecency and incest, were reported each day for the period from April 2008 to March 2009.

The data came from 43 police forces and was obtained through a Freedom of Information request by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

The statistics showed more than three quarters of the victims were between the ages of 10 and 17, while one in seven of the offences were committed against children under 10, and one in 1,000 against under 5s.

Phillip Noyes, the NSPCC''s director of strategy and development said the figures reveal a "shocking picture" and that actual figures may be far greater.

"We believe the true extent of the problem is far worse. Some of these children are so young they can''t tell anyone what is happening.

The statistics showed the number of cases where the victim knew the offender was four times greater than those involving strangers, while girls were shown to be six times more likely to be a victim of a sex crime.

The NSPCC is calling for the government to publish the details and to link them with the number of convictions made from the recorded offences.

"This information could then feed into a national sex abuse prevention strategy as well as helping the development of local services to treat child victims," said the charity''s spokesman.

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