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Following widespread national publicity regarding allegations of non-recent child sexual abuse in football in November 2016, 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 is the coordination hub for UK policing, set up in 2014 for investigations concerning persons of public prominence and/or in relation to offences which took place within institutional settings.

Operation Hydrant collates information it receives from partner agencies and organisations, 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 29 March 2018, 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.

2807 referrals and reports 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.
  • 708 referrals came from the NSPCC, and 2099 reports from police forces. (police force returns include duplicates/updates].

The indicative number of victims now stands at 849.

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

300 alleged suspects have been identified.

340 football clubs have been impacted.

  • This does not equate to 340 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 league clubs through to amateur.

95% of those identified as victims are male.

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

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Child Protection, Chief Constable Simon Bailey said:

“We were shocked, as a society, to see the scale of potential child sexual abuse in football when allegations began to emerge in November 2016 and investigations are ongoing.

“A small number of high profile cases involving people of public prominence get most focus but form just 6 per cent of the reports to police. Reports are most commonly about abuse in schools or children’s homes – places where children should expect to be safe.

“Investigations into allegations of non-recent child sexual abuse are more complex than recent allegations – victims and suspects may span force geographical borders, the forensic opportunities so relied on today may be extremely limited if they even exist, memories fade, places change purpose, name, and appearance, and people move on.

“Despite all these challenges, we are seeing many convictions of people who held a position of power, trust, and influence, but used it to abuse the children they should have been safeguarding.

“The Bennell case and allegations within football, reminds us that people may go a long time without reporting to police or may never do so at all. It is important we continue to listen to the voices of those abused and investigate allegations thoroughly and impartially, regardless of when the offence took place.”

Background info:

This document is intended to be the last of its kind and we aim to no longer routinely document statistics regarding sexual abuse reports in football, published separately from the quarterly statistics.

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.

The numbers for referrals relating to other sports are no longer included in this specialist document and have been absorbed into the quarterly statistics produced by Operation Hydrant, which lists the number of sport institutions on the Operation Hydrant database. Initially these numbers were extracted to provide information within this document on the other referrals received alongside football referrals.

Previous statistics - 31/12/2017

Previous statistics - 28/09/2017
Previous statistics - 30/06/2017
Previous statistics - 18/04/2017
Previous statistics - 18/01/2017
Previous statistics - 21/12/2016
Previous statistics - 09/12/2016