New figures show hundreds of tip offs about child abuse have been passed on the authorities

Hundreds of referrals have been made in the past two years. Library image showing a young girl with

Hundreds of referrals have been made in the past two years. Library image showing a young girl with her head in her lap. Photo: Archant Library - Credit: Contributed

Hundreds of referrals were made to the region's authorities after tip offs from the public about child abuse.

Children's charity the NSPCC has published figures showing that in the past two years their helpline referred 366 calls and emails to local authorities or the police.

In Norfolk 127 referrals were made, while in Suffolk 86 calls were passed on and the figures for Cambridgeshire were the highest at 153.

Nationally there has been a 31pc increase on the previous year in the numbers of referrals made.

Head of helplines at the charity John Cameron said sexual abuse can do huge damage to a child's life and left untreated will often haunt them long into adulthood.

He added: 'It is deeply worrying that so many children are potentially being exposed to such a devastating experience, but at the same time it also suggests that as a society we are much more alert to the risks and much more willing to come forward and share our concerns.

'It is therefore vital that anyone who suspects a young person is in danger contacts the authorities or gets in touch with us through our dedicated helpline.'

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One caller, whose identity has been kept anonymous, phoned the NSPCC helpline and said: 'I am concerned that a young girl in the neighbourhood might be at risk of sexual abuse by men who visit the house on weekends. There is lots of drinking that goes on and mum doesn't seem to be too concerned about leaving her alone with them. Mum can be often heard shouting and swearing at the girl and I don't think she is fit to care for her.'

The charity estimates that one in 20 children in the UK have experienced sexual abuse.

This has led the NSPCC to call on the government to commission a nationwide prevalence study on child abuse and neglect, in order to understand the true scale of the issue.

• If you have concerns about a child, then you can call the NSPCC's free and confidential hotline 24 hours a day on 0808 800 5000 or email