A professional speaks to a child in a youth centre

Trends in official data

Analysis of the latest data across local authorities, policing, criminal justice and sexual assault referral centres collated to explore how child sexual abuse is being identified and responded to in England and Wales.

Our latest report finds that children are the victims in 40% of all sexual offences – including rape and sexual assault – yet make up just 20% of the population in England & Wales.

2022/23 analysis by the CSA Centre highlights that whilst there have been small improvements, the level of child sexual abuse identified by official agencies remains broadly similar to the previous year and some elements of the response, such as numbers of children placed on child protection plans, appears to be getting worse.

In 2022/23, child protection plans for sexual abuse were at the lowest levels in 14 years, with 2,290 children supported through such plans. Furthermore, sexual abuse made up the lowest proportion of new child protection plans since records began; just 3.6% in 2022/23, in comparison with 23% in 1993/4. This is despite surveys indicating that children are just as likely to experience sexual abuse as other forms of abuse, such as emotional or physical abuse.


We conservatively estimate that half a million children will experience some form of sexual abuse every year in England & Wales. Ultimately this means that the gap between the number of children being sexually abused and the identification and response by statutory agencies remains far too wide.

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