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National statistics on allegations of non-recent child sexual abuse in football: Updated 18/01/17

Following widespread national publicity regarding allegations of non-recent child sexual abuse in football, many police forces across the country received an increased number of calls from victims and from people offering information.


This information was forwarded by forces to Operation Hydrant, along with referrals from the NSPCC helpline, as part of the process of operational coordination across the police service.

Operation Hydrant collates this information, cross references it to avoid duplication of investigation, and ensures information and intelligence is shared across forces. The process of operational coordination is complex and detailed, and remains ongoing, meaning that figures provided may fluctuate.

Statistics released today by Operation Hydrant provide an indicative* national figure, up to and including the 13 January, in relation to allegations of non-recent child sexual abuse within football. The figures are accurate at the time of publication, but may change as forces progress local investigations and as the information offered is further analysed.

1016 referrals have been received by Operation Hydrant from the NSPCC helpline and directly from police forces.

  • The analysis of information received by Operation Hydrant is ongoing with processes to determine if the referral relates to a victim or a witness and whether the information received is new or a duplication of information already received.
  • To ensure that any figure released into the public domain remains completely accurate, we will not at this stage be breaking down this figure any further.
  • This figure does not equate to the number of victims.
  • 614 referrals came from the NSPCC, and 402 from police Forces.

The indicative number of victims now stands at 526.

  • This is an indicative figure based on the information available at the time of publication, and may fluctuate.

184 potential suspects have been identified.

248 football clubs have been impacted.

  • This does not equate to 248 football clubs under investigation, but instead refers to the number of clubs referenced when information is submitted.
  • The figure spans all tiers of football, from premier clubs through to amateur.

97% per cent of those identified as victims are male.

The age range for potential victims at the time of the abuse spans 4 years through to 20 years.

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 will be provided at this stage to avoid prejudice to any potential live ongoing investigations.

National Police Chiefs’ Council 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.”

Background info:

Investigations have been launched by forces local to the area where allegations relate, and these are being progressed in a prioritised manner based on assessment of risk and harm.

Where allegations against a suspect span a number of forces, a lead Force will be identified to progress the investigation, while maintaining liaison with other forces holding relevant information.

Due to the high number of calls received across the service, it may take longer than normal for an officer from a local force to make contact to follow up from the initial call. Please be assured that the information provided will be taken seriously and acted upon.

Previous statistics - 09/12/2016
Previous statistics - 21/12/2016