As we move into 2017, Operation Hydrant, the national approach to co-ordinating all non-recent child abuse investigations across the country, will shortly reach its fifth year since its inception.

I have recently received updated statistics from the Operation which show how the police continue to investigate and successfully prosecute child abusers and which I would like to share with you. These statistics also specifically include updated figures in relation to the allegations of non-recent abuse in football.

Institutions recorded by Operation Hydrant so far

Operation Hydrant’s database now has 1,474 institutions in its database, an increase of 390 since my previous report in November 2016. The institutions can be broken down into the following categories:

Click here to view the table. 

Potential offenders being investigated by Operation Hydrant so far

There are now 3,535 people registered as offenders/suspects on the database, an increase of 758 since I last reported two months ago. Of these 3,535 suspects, 3,118 are recorded as having offended within institutional settings. The majority of these suspects are males and of these, 405 are deceased, meaning that 3,130 suspects are the subjects of live investigations.

Click here to view the chart. 

Of the 3,535 suspects recorded, 369 are classified as “persons of public prominence” which is 10% of all suspects on the database. This is an interesting figure because as we know the mainstream media focuses on abuse perpetrated by persons of public prominence yet this is a relatively low figure when the suspects are considered as a whole. The category of persons of public prominence can be broken down further as follows:

Click here to view the table.

Victims recorded by Operation Hydrant so far

There are 3,664 persons classified as victims on the Operation Hydrant database. A gender breakdown is shown below. These figures show that the majority of those reporting are male and this has been the case since the inception of the Operation.

Click here to view the chart. 

Abuse in football – updated statistics as of January 2017

Following the ongoing publicity of non-recent child sexual abuse allegations in football, police forces nationally have received an increased number of calls from victims. Operation Hydrant received this information from police forces and also from the NSPCC helpline.

Once information is received by Operation Hydrant it is collated and cross referenced to avoid any duplication before it is shared across police forces on a national basis.

As of 16 January 2017 the following statistics had been collated:

  • 1,016 referrals have been received by Operation Hydrant from the NSPCC helpline and directly from police forces. This figure does not equate to the number of victims and at this stage has not been broken down further to protect the integrity of live investigations. Of the 1,016 referrals, 614 came from the NSPCC and 402 from police Forces.
  • The indicative number of victims now stands at 526.
  • 184 potential suspects have been identified.
  • 248 football clubs have been impacted. This does not equate to 248 football clubs that are under investigation but instead refers to the number of clubs that have been mentioned when information is received. This figure spans all tiers of football, from premier clubs through to amateur clubs.
  • 97% per cent of those identified as victims are male.
  • The age range for potential victims at the time of the abuse spans from four years of age through to 20 years old.
  • The vast majority of referrals relate to football. However, a number of other sports have also been the subject of a referral. 22 referrals relate to sports outside football. These referrals include rugby, gymnastics, martial arts, tennis, wrestling, golf, sailing, athletics, cricket, and swimming. No further breakdown of the categories within sports has been provided at this stage, again, to avoid prejudice to any potential live ongoing investigations.

Comment from Chief Constable Simon Bailey, National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Child Protection

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.”

What do these statistics show?

These figures show that Operation Hydrant continues to receive new allegations of abuse every day that are subject to live investigations. The phrase ‘the tip of the iceberg’ sadly continues to ring true. The increase in the figures above, even from just a few months ago, is indicative of Chief Constable Simon Bailey’s promise that victims will be believed and that all information provided will be taken seriously and acted upon. I mentioned in my previous report that I left the briefing in September 2016 with Operation Hydrant feeling very reassured about the operation and its work and this is reflective in the figures above.

It is of course very encouraging that victims and survivors are continuing to come forward and disclose the abuse that they have suffered, no matter when this occurred. Whilst it is understandably a very difficult step for someone to take, with the increased training that Operation Hydrant is providing for its specialist child protection officers across the country, no one should ever feel worried that they will not be listened to. The above statistics, in addition to daily media reports, show that cases are being investigated, taken to trial and most importantly, abusers are being convicted and imprisoned. It is the hope that victims who are yet to report abuse they have suffered will take some comfort from this and be reassured that their case will be investigated, leaving no stone unturned.

I am continuing to work with Operation Hydrant from a number of different perspectives: from a victim’s point of view; through my position as a trustee of the charity One in Four; and from a legal point of view through my work representing victims who bring claims for compensation. More information regarding the latter will follow shortly. I shall continue to keep you updated as and when I receive any further updates or statistics.

Anyone wishing to report allegations of non-recent abuse is encouraged to approach either their local police force or call 101 and ask to speak to a child protection officer. If you or someone else is suffering or suspected to be suffering current abuse, call 999 immediately to report your concerns.