180 sex offence reports made to Suffolk police by county's school pupils
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A total of 180 sex offence reports have been made by pupils in Suffolk's schools in the past five years, new figures have revealed.
The statistics, obtained following a Freedom of Information (FoI) request to Suffolk police by this newspaper, showed that more than half of the reports (57%) came from high schools in the county.
The figures also revealed that charges were brought in only three cases - 1.6% of the total reports.
However, a further three cases were dealt with by community resolution, while action by another agency was undertaken in 31 reports.
There were 104 reports of sexual offences in the county's high schools from January 1, 2016, to March 31, 2021, the FoI revealed.
The county's primary schools (44) and special schools (16) accounted for the bulk of the other reports during the same timeframe.
Detective Chief Inspector Holly Evans, from Suffolk police, said the force consults with partner agencies when the alleged offender is aged under the age of 18.
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"Reports of sexual offences, of any nature, are taken extremely seriously, and dealt with sensitively by police as they can be complex matters, depending on the ages of those concerned," she said.
"The welfare of the victim is of the utmost importance and support is offered at all stages to ensure their needs are met and that the appropriate services are provided.
"When an offence is reported that involves an offender under the age of 18, special measures are utilised to ensure that they are dealt with appropriately, with partner agencies consulted to ensure the welfare of all concerned."
DCI Evans said the force strives to avoid the "criminalisation" of children and works to explore the issues around the report.
"Police officers work with partners in youth offending teams and social services to determine the needs of the child and to provide the appropriate levels of support to the family," she added.
"The 'criminalisation' of children is avoided, and rather the issues surrounding the offence are explored, including their potential vulnerabilities and home life, and work to reduce further offending is carried out.
“While children under the age of 10 years cannot by law be held criminally responsible or subject to prosecution, we are committed to steering vulnerable youths of all ages away from crime.
"We do take a robust stance against crime and, where possible, will always take appropriate and proportionate action.”