Police are being passed 100 new cases a month by the Goddard inquiry, revealing the “shocking” scale of child sex abuse in England and Wales.
Simon Bailey, head of the police’s national coordinating unit Operation Hydrant, told the Guardian he expects 30,000 reports of new child sexual offences as a result of the public inquiry, set up in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.
Reports to police have increased by a staggering 80 per cent between 2012 and 2015. If this continues, Mr Bailey estimated that forces could be handling around 200,000 cases by 2020.
He said: “It is fair to say I am surprised by the extent of abuse being exposed, it is shocking.
“In trying to get a message across to the public about the scale of this, it is important to remember that behind each of these figures there is a victim.
“We are seeing a significant rise in the number of referrals each month from the Goddard inquiry, and these allegations relate to abuse in a range of institutions from the church, to schools, the scouts and hospitals.”
Justice Lowell Goddard’s inquiry currently involves 13 investigations into institutional abuse which focus on, among others, Westminster, the Catholic Church, the Church of England and Lambeth borough. They will also focus on sexual exploitation and grooming in different parts of the country including Oxford, Rochdale, Devon, Cornwall and the Medomsley detention centre in County Durham.
To date, 2,000 victims have contacted the inquiry to report experiences of child sexual abuse. Of these, 600 people will be involved in the Truth Project, which gives survivors of institutional child sexual abuse a chance to share their experience in a private session. It is hoped that sharing information will lead to a better understanding of the scale of sexual abuse in institutions as well as identifying patterns and themes in the nature and impact of the abuse.
Dame Lowell Goddard visited Manchester this week to announce the start of the inquiry’s Truth Project in the north west of England.