Child sexual abuse in 2020/21: Trends in official data

By Kairika Karsna 

This review focuses on the recorded cases of child sexual abuse by professionals in 2020/21, drawing on the latest available evidence from the official data released by child protection, criminal justice and health agencies in England and Wales. It paints a worrying picture of the gap between what is estimated to be the prevalence of child sexual abuse in England and Wales and what is recorded in official data. Right now, agencies are only identifying and responding to a small minority of child sexual abuse that occurs in society and the latest data from services shows significant variations in the levels of child sexual abuse identified and responded to across local areas in England and Wales.

Nearly two thirds of local authorities in England – including the majority of those in Inner London – placed five children or fewer on a child protection plan under the category of sexual abuse. Half of all local authorities in Wales also placed no or very few children. In policing, forces differed threefold in the rate of recorded child sexual abuse offences relative to the size of their child population. Data from Sexual Assault Referral Centre’s (SARC’s) also varied widely across the seven health regions, with London having the lowest and South West the highest reach among under-18s.

Read Trends in official data (PDF, 3MB)

Read the Welsh summary of Trends in official data (PDF, 2MB)


Explore our infographics presenting key data and latest trends in identification and response to child sexual abuse.

Read our infographics


Scale and nature report 2019

This report compiles an analysis of the scale and nature of child sexual abuse across England and Wales using official and agency data from 2017/8.

Download the scale and nature report (PDF, 3.8 MB)