Potential victims in football abuse probe surpasses 500

Updated: 

British police say the indicative number of victims of child sexual abuse within football and other sports now stands at more than 500.

The National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) said 526 possible victims had been identified following the latest referrals from the NSPCC and police forces across the country.

A total of 1016 referrals have been received as of January 13, with 184 potential suspects identified and 248 football clubs impacted, ranging from the Premier League through to amateur divisions.

The NPCC said that 22 referrals relating to sports other than football have been received. The other sports include rugby, gymnastics, martial arts, tennis, wrestling, golf, sailing, athletics, cricket and swimming.

The organisation's lead for child protection, chief constable Simon Bailey, said: "Operation Hydrant is beginning to see a decrease in the number of referrals being received via the NSPCC helpline and directly to forces relating to allegations of abuse within football, and other sports.

"Allegations of non-recent child sexual abuse are complex, and often require specialist skills and knowledge, and can take time to progress. However, all allegations and information received by police forces across the country are being acted upon.

"We continue to urge anyone who may have been a victim of child sexual abuse to report it by dialling 101, or contacting the dedicated NSPCC helpline, 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 ensure that appropriate action is being taken to prevent children being abused today."