SEXUAL offences in Warwickshire schools are on the rise.
Warwickshire Police received 68 reports in the past three years – 17 of which were carried out in 2012/13, 24 in the following year, rising to 27 in the past 12 months.
The figures were released as part of a national investigation following a Freedom of Information request by the BBC.
All UK police forces were asked how many sexual offences had been recorded at schools during the last three academic years from 2012 to 2015.
According to the stats, over 5,500 sexual offences occured nationwide – of which almost 4,000 were indecent assaults and more than 600 rapes.
The investigation also revealed the majority of victims were primary and secondary school pupils with more than 1,500 victims reported to be under 13 years old.
Alarmingly, at least one in five of the crimes were carried out by other children and in some cases, the victim and abuser were as young as five.
Further details about the nature of the sexual offences in Warwickshire were not released – or how many prosecutions had resulted from the reports – but police chiefs were quick to defend the increase saying it was in line with national trends.
Det Ch Inspector Peter Davies said: “The increase in reports of sexual offences in schools can be attributed to a number of factors including an increase of victims coming forward, an increase in reports of non-recent sexual offences and increased use of social media and technology by both victims and offenders.
“We feel this is positive and indicates an increased confidence in victims coming forward to Warwickshire Police.
“These investigations are incredibly complex but each report of rape or a sexual offence is thoroughly, robustly and independently investigated with local authorities, schools, social services and specialist victim support agencies.
“Anyone who may have been the victim of rape or a sexual offence is reminded they will be treated in a caring and sensitive manner by specialist officers and we will work hard to prosecute those responsible while taking into account their wishes.
“Any sexual offence reported to the police receives a high priority especially those involving children.”
Education chiefs at Warwickshire County Council had commented at the time of going to press.
Anyone who has been the victim of a sexual assault can contact the Blue Sky Sexual Assault Referral Centre at George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton.
Visit www.blueskycentre.org.uk or call 02476 865 505 for further information.