MX23RW : Wednesday, January 16 02:18:12

Police: '83 potential child sex abuse victims from 98 football clubs'

Police announce that 83 potential suspects of child sex abuse have been identified in 98 football clubs.

The National Police Chiefs' Council has announced that it has identified 83 potential suspects involved in alleged child sexual abuse in 98 football clubs.

Police forces up and down the country have been investigating numerous allegations after Andy Woodward's public revelation that he was sexually abused by ex-Crewe Alexandra coach Barry Bennell as a young footballer encouraged others to come forward.

The NPCC has confirmed that since Woodward's interview with The Guardian, 639 cases of historical child sex abuse in the sport have been reported to the police or referred to them by the NSPCC's helpline.

The ages of the victims range from seven to 20 years old.

National Police Chiefs' Council lead for Child Protection, Chief Constable Simon Bailey, said in a statement: "Allegations received by police forces across the country are being swiftly acted upon. We are also liaising closely with the Football Association to ensure all relevant information they hold is shared to inform investigations moving forward.

"We continue to urge anyone who may have been a victim of child sexual abuse to report it by dialling 101, or contacting the dedicated NSPCC helpline, 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 ensure that appropriate action is being taken to prevent children being abused today. As the number of calls being received across the service is higher than usual, it may take longer than normal for an officer from a local force to make contact to follow up from the initial call. Please be assured that the information provided will be taken seriously and acted upon."

Steve Walters, David White and Paul Stewart are among the ex-footballers who have waived their right to anonymity to discuss the alleged abuse that they suffered as children.


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