Child sexual exploitation complaints in central Lancashire are falling, despite a county-wide increase in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.
In stark contrast to other areas of the UK, where numbers have risen sharply, case numbers have actually dropped in the new Southern police division which covers Preston, South Ribble and Chorley.
The latest figures from across Lancashire show 2014/15 is on course to eclipse the two previous years since Savile was exposed as a predatory paedophile.
But, while the Fylde Coast has seen complaints soar by 26 per cent in the calendar year 2014, and the number of reported incidents in the east remains almost half the total in the whole of Lancashire, the mid-section of the county continues to produce the fewest.
The statistics show there were 228 complaints in 2014 compared with 253 in 2013 in the old central and southern sectors which now make up the new southern division. Across the county as a whole there were 1,225 complaints in 2012/13, that figure rose to 1,248 in 2013/14. The running total for 2014/15 stands at 1,013 with the final quarter still to be added.
The figures come just three months after Lancashire Constabulary revealed it had been forced to take on agency staff as a “short-term fix” to help tackle the backlog of CSE cases in Preston and Blackpool.
Police have greeted the general increase in reported cases. Det Supt Sue Cawley, head of the force’s public protection unit, said: “We are pleased the numbers are as high as they are, it means people have the confidence to come forward. All the training done with schools, doctors, parents and young people means people recognise CSE.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw added: “The fact our officers continue to get so many referrals across the county is a positive sign that our campaign of raising awareness is working. However, it is also a sign that the perpetrators are still not getting the message and still think they can groom and exploit children for their own needs.”
CSE prosecutions in Lancashire have remained constant with 191 in 2011, 183 in 2012, 197 in 2013 and 192 last year.