Police: '350 victims of sexual abuse in football clubs come forward'

Police: '350 sexual abuse victims in football reported'
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Police announce that around 350 people have come forward to report allegations of sexual abuse in football clubs.

The National Police Chiefs' Council has announced that around 350 people have come forward to report crimes of sexual abuse within football clubs.

The figures have been collected by police forces across the UK and referrals from the NSPCC helpline, which received 860 calls within one week.

The information was handed to Operation Hydrant, which was set up in 2014 to oversee investigations into historical child sex abuse.

Victims have been encouraged to come forward after a number of ex-professional footballers, including Andy Woodward, publicly claimed that they suffered sexual abuse while part of the youth system at football clubs.

Sixteen police forces around the country have launched investigations after receiving reports of abuse.

With regards to the latest figures, Chief Constable Simon Bailey - the NPCC's lead for child protection - said in a statement: "We are working closely with the Football Association to ensure that the response to this significant and growing number of victims, at all levels of football, is coordinated effectively.

"We continue to encourage those who have been the victim of child sexual abuse to report it, regardless of how long ago the abuse may have taken place. We will listen and treat all reports sensitively and seriously. Anyone with any information regarding child sexual abuse is also urged to come forward.

"When allegations are reported it enables police to assess whether there are current safeguarding risks and to ensure that appropriate action is taken to prevent children being abused today."

A number of footballers have named convicted paedophile and former Crewe Alexandra coach Barry Bennell as their abuser, while ex-Newcastle United player David Eatock recently claimed that he was sexually abused between the ages of 18 and 21 by coach George Ormond, who was jailed for six years in 2002 for assaulting seven boys.

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