- 495 sexual grooming offences recorded by police in the year to June
- Figure has risen by a third since on 376 offences uncovered in 2013
- Lynne Featherstone warns abuse is not confined to any one area
- Home Office minister says exploitation can ‘take on many different forms’
- Council leaders hold summit on how to protect children from sex gangs
- Child abuse inquiry members to give evidence to home affairs committee
The number of child sex grooming cases uncovered by police has soared by a third in just a year, ministers have admitted amid warnings abuse is happening in every town in the country.
The Home Office has revealed that 495 sexual grooming offences were recorded by police in the year to June, up 32 per cent on the same time in 2013.
It comes as council leaders hold a summit today on how to protect youngsters from being exploited by gangs of sex offenders.
Police say they have been inundated with reports of child sexual exploitation, including historic cases and allegations of grooming and trafficking across the country.
It follows high profile historical cases involving celebrities such as Jimmy Savile and revelations about sex gangs in Rotherham and Rochdale.
Fleur Strong, director of Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation (Pace), told MailOnline last month that this type of abuse is ‘in every town’ and warned that people retreated to a ‘comfort zone’ of thinking grooming and abuse only happen ‘elsewhere’.
Challenged about the remarks, Home Office minister Lynne Featherstone insisted the risk of child abuse and grooming was not limited to certain areas.
‘We know that child sexual abuse and exploitation are not confined to any particular areas of the country,’ she said in response to a parliamentary question. ‘It can take on many different forms.’
But overwhelmingly they take the form of gangs like this (map here):