More than 100 reports of rape or attempted rape were made by Wigan children last year, shock new figures reveal.
A Freedom of Information request for statistics covering all crimes against under-17s shows that no fewer than 378 allegations of sexual asssault were made by minors in 2015, 96 of them rapes. Particularly appallingly, some of the victims were of pre-school age or even babies.
The new FOI numbers that in 2015 there were 1,639 child victims of crime in the Wigan borough, almost a quarter aged 10 and under. That’s a huge increase from the previous year’s figure of 909.
A total of 24 babies aged one and under were recorded as victims, with four sexual offences against them, including one rape, plus eight assaults and a neglect and cruelty charge.
A total of 50 children aged between two and five were assaulted, while a further 17 were victims of sexual assaults or activity.
Seven rapes were reported and one attempted rape among this age group.
Three children aged two to five had indecent photos taken of them and two were forced to watch sexual activity between adults.
The most common age of victims of all crimes was between 14 and 15, followed by 16-year-olds and 12-year-olds.
Horrifically, the most prolific crimes against all youngsters aged 17 and under were sexual assaults or activity totalling 267 incidents.
But that does not include the 96 alleged rapes and five attempted rapes.
There were 21 acts of making or taking pornographic images recorded and 10 counts of causing a child to watch sexual activity.
Five youngsters were subjected to grooming, 10 were the victims of indecent exposure and three were the subjects of voyeurism.
Four youngsters were falsely imprisoned, 58 were victims of cruelty or neglect and 74 reported being harassed.
There were 160 thefts from minors, 61 of which involved bicycles being stolen.
The overall crime figure too is shocking, not least because it has shot up from 909 in 2014 to 1,639 last year.
But a spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said that this sudden increase was due to more people coming forward and stronger police work.
Det Insp Matthew Moore said: “We are dedicated to safeguarding children and take all reports of crimes involving children extremely seriously.
“There are also strong referral procedures in place to prevent their likelihood of becoming a victim themselves.
“The approach taken to investigate the welfare of the child involves working closely with partner agencies, the child and their family to achieve the best outcome for them.
“The increase shows a greater confidence of victims to come forward and report incidents. We have also invested time in training our officers on the correct recording of crimes involving children in accordance with national guidelines.
“We would urge anyone who feels they have been a victim or knows anyone that has been a victim to contact the police on 101.”