The NSPCC has identified a sharp increase in the number of recorded sexual offences against children throughout England and Wales.

The figures, published to run concurrently with the charity’s launch of its third annual “How Safe Are Our Children?” report, suggest that reported offences have spiked by almost a third.

However Peter Wanless, the NSPCC’s chief executive, has said the figures were “a fraction of the true number of victims”, stating that many were still trying to find the courage to come forward and tell their stories.

Almost 31,000 offences recorded in the year up to April 2014, up 8,500 on the previous year.

According to figures made public by a Freedom of Information request, alarming statistics showed that over 8,000 of those offences involved children younger than 11, nearly 3,000 involved children younger than five and 94 babies.

Jon Brown, from the NSPCC’s sexual abuse programme, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, said that cases in Rotherham, Rochdale, Oxford and elsewhere had helped prompt “children, young people and adults to speak about abuse that is either happening to them or has happened to them”.

David Gibbs, Chartered Legal Executive at Jordans Solicitors, said: “These latest figures are shocking and it is horrific to think that, sadly, this is just the tip of the iceberg, with many thousands of victims still suffering in silence.

“The positive thing to take from these figures, if there is such a thing, is that police forces in this country are now taking these allegations seriously and people are more confident in coming forward and that their voices are going to be heard”

Home Secretary Theresa May has established an independent inquiry to probe allegations of historical child sex abuse and a Westminster paedophile ring.

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