Football: 350 victims report UK child sex abuse

Signs are seen at the Crewe Alexandra Football Club ground in Crewe, Britain on Nov 27, 2016.
Signs are seen at the Crewe Alexandra Football Club ground in Crewe, Britain on Nov 27, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Around 350 people have come forward to say they were sexually abused as children by youth football coaches in Britain, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said on Thursday (Dec 1).

The scale of the abuse began to emerge last week after a string of ex-footballers, including England internationals, told of the ordeals inflicted upon them by coaches.

“We are working closely with the Football Association to ensure that the response to this significant and growing number of victims, at all levels of football, is co-ordinated effectively,” said Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the NPCC’s lead for child protection.

The NPCC said a “significant” amount of calls had been made to police after the former players came forward to speak out about the abuse they suffered as children.

The BBC said the NPCC’s figures were based on existing investigations as well as a new helpline set up by British charity the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

The NSPCC said the helpline had received 860 calls in its first week, enabling it to refer 60 cases to police or social services within three days of the hotline launching.

That was more than triple the number of referrals made in the first three days of the helpline set up for victims of Jimmy Savile, a serial paedophile and late BBC television presenter.

Fifteen police forces across Britain are now investigating cases that have made daily headlines in the country over the past two weeks.

Bailey encouraged anyone with information about child abuse in football to come forward.

“We continue to encourage those who have been the victim of child sexual abuse to report it, regardless of how long ago the abuse may have taken place,” he said.