Around 350 vic­tims re­port UK child sex abuse

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Around 350 peo­ple have come for­ward to tell Bri­tish po­lice they were vic­tims of child sex­ual abuse by foot­ball coaches, deep­en­ing a scan­dal that has rocked the sport.

The scale of the abuse be­gan to emerge last week af­ter a string of ex-foot­ballers, in­clud­ing Eng­land in­ter­na­tion­als, told of the crimes in­flicted upon them, in­clud­ing years of be­ing re­peat­edly raped.

The Na­tional Po­lice Chiefs’ Coun­cil said a “sig­nif­i­cant” num­ber of calls had been made to them af­ter the play­ers spoke out about what they suf­fered as chil­dren.

An­nounc­ing the fig­ures, the NPCC said they were based on ex­ist­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions dat­ing back to 2014 as well as a new helpline set up by Bri­tish char­ity the Na­tional So­ci­ety for the Pre­ven­tion of Cru­elty to Chil­dren (NSPCC). The NSPCC said the helpline re­ceived 860 calls in its first week, en­abling it to re­fer 60 cases to po­lice or so­cial ser­vices within three days of the hotline launch­ing.

That was more than triple the num­ber of re­fer­rals made in the first three days of the helpline set up for vic­tims of Jimmy Sav­ile, a se­rial pae­dophile and late BBC tele­vi­sion pre­sen­ter. “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,” said Chief Con­sta­ble Si­mon Bai­ley, the NPCC’s lead of­fi­cer for child pro­tec­tion. He en­cour­aged any­one with in­for­ma­tion about child abuse in foot­ball to come for­ward, “re­gard­less of how long ago the abuse may have taken place”.

A quar­ter of the po­lice forces across Bri­tain are in­ves­ti­gat­ing cases that have made daily head­lines over the past two weeks.

Greater Manch­ester Po­lice said they had iden­ti­fied 10 sus­pects and its in­quiry was widen­ing on a daily ba­sis. “We are in­ves­ti­gat­ing re­ports from 35 vic­tims and we have iden­ti­fied 10 sus­pects,” said GMP As­sis­tant Chief Con­sta­ble Debbie Ford.

FA chief ex­ec­u­tive Martin Glenn said on Thurs­day he does not be­lieve child abuse within Bri­tish foot­ball has been cov­ered up.

“It will help un­cover some is­sues that can’t hap­pen again, but do I think there has been a cover-up? I doubt it,” said Glenn, whose or­gan­i­sa­tion has es­tab­lished an in­ter­nal re­view of the al­le­ga­tions.

The scale of the abuse be­gan to emerge af­ter ex-foot­ballers Andy Wood­ward, Steve Wal­ters and Paul Ste­wart re­vealed last week the abuse they suf­fered at the hands of youth coaches. Con­victed child mo­lester Barry Ben­nell has been ac­cused by sev­eral foot­ballers of abus­ing them when he worked for Crewe Alexan­dra, Manch­ester City and Stoke City across three decades be­gin­ning in the 1970s. He is the tar­get of five sep­a­rate po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions and on Tues­day was charged with eight counts of child abuse, pros­e­cu­tors said. For­mer New­cas­tle United player David Ea­tock is the lat­est player to speak out about his suf­fer­ing. Now 40, he said he had been a vic­tim of for­mer youth coach Ge­orge Or­mond, who was sen­tenced to six years in jail in 2002 for of­fences com­mit­ted over al­most 25 years. “One of the more dif­fi­cult parts for me is that I wasn’t as young as some of the oth­ers,” Ea­tock told The Guardian news­pa­per. “I was 18 when I got to know Ge­orge Or­mond. I can still re­mem­ber the look on his face, how ter­ri­fy­ing it was.”

He added: “It has been like a knot in my brain and I’m now try­ing to pick apart that knot.”—

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