Analysis of 2017/18 official and agency data
Sherrelle Parke and Kairika Karsna

This report looks at data from local authority children’s services, where child protection plans and social care initial assessments record where a child has experienced sexual abuse or is considered at risk of it, and data from criminal justice agencies, including the police and courts, that tells us about child sexual abuse offences and prosecutions. While this data provides an important insight into the practice of key agencies in relation to child sexual abuse, it is important to remember that this is not prevalence data (experiences of child sexual abuse in the general population): it is annual case management information as recorded at local and national levels. As such, what is and is not recorded reflects the varying needs and priorities of different agencies.

It remains the case that the majority of child sexual abuse is neither reported nor identified during childhood and will therefore not appear in official agency data. However, the extent to which agencies recognise and respond to concerns of child sexual abuse is important, and this report pulls together available public data relating to child sexual abuse in one place. We hope it enables those in the field to better understand the bigger picture and changing context of the issue.

Download the report (PDF, 3.8 MB)

Scoping report
Professor Liz Kelly and Kairika Karsna

This report has been produced in partnership with London Metropolitan University, and informed by two expert workshops. The report was first published in July 2017 and was revised in August 2018. It includes current best estimates of the prevalence of child sexual abuse (including exploitation) and sets out how we can improve the data and our understanding.

Scoping report (PDF, 2.4 MB)


At-a-glance summaries of what we currently do and do not know (updated July 2019)

Infographics (PDF, 3.0 MB)

Briefing: Improving understanding of the scale and nature of child sexual abuse

This briefing summarises key points from the scoping report and sets out next steps in working towards better and comparative data.

Briefing in English (PDF, 1.3 MB)

Papur briffio: Gwella’r ddealltwriaeth o raddfa a natur cam-drin plant yn rhywiol

(Briefing in Welsh)

Briefing in Welsh (PDF, 1.3 MB)


Characteristics and experiences of children and young people attending Saint Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre, Greater Manchester: A review of 986 case files

This report presents the findings and learning from extracting and analysing the narrative data collected in case files held by St Mary’s SARC using a set of core data fields developed by the CSA Centre. The study sought to explore the value and practicability for agencies to collect core data systematically about the nature of CSA, the people involved in and affected by it, and associated services.

This study shows that the introduction of consistent and comprehensive data collection would be unlikely to add additional burden to the existing data recording. Much of this data already exists in the narrative case files; collecting the information in a way that is extractable and easier to interpret and analyse will allow for better monitoring and comparison across services, localities and interventions.

The report is based on almost 1000 case files and tells us about the people who are accessing the SARC’s services, and just as importantly, the people who aren’t accessing them. For example, compared to the local population, minority ethnic groups were under-represented in the sample and boys were more likely than girls to attend the SARC after long periods of abuse. This information provides valuable insights which can be used to inform improvements in future practice and service reach, such as by testing interventions and outreach activity aimed at identifying boys earlier and being more accessible to BAME children and communities.

A review of CSA case files at St Mary’s SARC (PDF, 3.2 MB)

Welsh summary (PDF, 1.0 MB)