Police identify 250 'suspects' in football child abuse scandal

Police investigating football's child sex abuse scandal have now identified more than 250 potential suspects and 560 victims, updated figures show.

Some 311 football clubs, spanning all tiers of the game from the Premier League down to amateur level, are involved in the inquiry, dubbed Operation Hydrant.

The latest figures from the investigation, which is being co-ordinated by the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC), mark a rise from the last update in January.

The number of victims previously stood at 526, while the number of potential suspects has also risen from 184 to 252, the NPCC said.

The ages of the victims - 96% of whom are male - span from four to 20. 

A hotline was set up to report abuse since the scandal broke late last year when a number of high profile ex-footballers came forward to say they were victims of sexual abuse as youngsters.

Police forces across the UK received an increased number of calls from victims and from people offering information.

The NPCC said 25 referrals to the inquiry relate to sports outside football, including rugby, gymnastics, martial arts, tennis, wrestling, golf, sailing, athletics, cricket and swimming.

While the number of referrals being received is beginning to decline, the NPCC is continuing to urge anyone who may have been a victim of child sexual abuse to come forward. 

The Football Association has also begun an independent review, led by Clive Sheldon QC, into its handling of abuse allegations in the years prior to 2005.

Victims or anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 or the NSPCC and FA helpline on 0800 023 2442.

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