Child sex abuse in football clubs 'reported by 350 victims'

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Around 350 victims have come forward to report child sexual abuse within football clubs, the National Police Chiefs' Council has said.

The number comes from information supplied by forces across the UK to Operation Hydrant, set up in 2014 to oversee investigations into historical child sex abuse concerning prominent people, and referrals from the NSPCC helpline.

The NPCC said police forces across the country had received a "significant" number of calls, both reporting further allegations and offering information.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the NPCC's lead for child protection, said the number of victims was "an indicative figure only" and that with information still being collated numbers could change.

He said: "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.

"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.

"We will listen and treat all reports sensitively and seriously. Anyone with any information regarding child sexual abuse is also urged to come forward.

"When allegations are reported it enables police to assess whether there are current safeguarding risks and to ensure that appropriate action is taken to prevent children being abused today."

Allegations of abuse are being recorded and investigated local to the area where each allegation was made, the NPCC said.

More than a quarter of UK police forces are probing allegations of historical child sex abuse in football.

Andy Woodward playing for Bury
The NSPCC helpline was set up after former player Andy Woodward said he had been abused (David Rawcliffe/EMPICS)

Derbyshire Constabulary, Warwickshire, Avon and Somerset, Essex and Norfolk Police are the latest to confirm they are investigating claims, bringing the current tally to 16.

North Yorkshire, Dorset, Staffordshire, Greater Manchester, North Wales, Cambridgeshire, Hampshire, Cheshire, Northumbria, Scotland Yard and Police Scotland have also launched inquiries.

The NSPCC also said it received more than 860 calls to a helpline in the week after it was launched on November 23.

The helpline was set up with the support and funding of the Football Association after former player Andy Woodward said he had been abused as a young player.