Push to protect children brings rise in cases

A rise in the number of sex abuse cases being reported is being seen as success for a big push to protect children.

The number of sexual offences against victims under 16 years old reported to the police has risen dramatically in four years

It went up from three cases in 2012 to 17 in 2015 (up to the end of October).

Five sex offenders were serving sentences of between four and 11 years in St Helena’s prison at the end of November 2015.

Twenty three registered sex offenders were being managed in the community.

Those figures are seen as evidence of robust action being taken to protect children – and success of education campaignes.

St Helena Government released the figures in response to a request from St Helena Online.

It said:

In 2012, four sexual offences were successfully prosecuted. In 2015, to date (10 December 2015), 36 sexual offences have been prosecuted with the majority awaiting sentencing in the Supreme Court.

The average number of children and vulnerable adults referred to social services each month has risen from six in 2012 to over 40 in the second half of 2014.

The number of children subject to care proceedings and court orders has doubled in the last year from 5 to 11(Nov 2014-Nov 2015). The number of cases of ‘children in need’ being address by the Safeguarding Children’s Team has risen from 50 in Nov 2014 to 71 in November 2015.

In 2012 for Social Services, there were an average of six referrals and initial assessments per month. From mid-2014 there was an average of 46 referrals a month. In comparison, population-wise in the UK, you would expect around 54 referrals a year.

There have been 325 referrals to the Safeguarding Directorate since Jan 2015. This also includes adult referrals as well as domestic abuse referrals. This would indicate that public confidence in the services provided has increased dramatically.

This does not include referrals made directly by the public and agencies to the Independent Domestic Abuse Specialist (10 in last two months) and more recently the newly arrived Counsellor.

There are currently 13 children subject to child protection planning on St Helena and a number of public law proceedings where children have been or are assessed as being at risk of significant harm.

The 2008 census shows that the prison population was three. Until last year the trend was 3-4 prisoners at any one time. During 2014 we housed on average 13 prisoners with a range between 16 and 11.

As of 27 November 2015 we have 15 convicted prisoners – five serving sentences for sex offences with sentences ranging from four years to 11 years.

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