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Sex Offences by Children 'Missed'

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11:25am 7th February 2013
(Updated 11:25am 7th February 2013)

Pirate FM has learnt there are fears sex crimes by children in Cornwall are being missed.

A report, which studied youngsters in the Duchy among others, warns some social workers, teachers and police do not spot warning signs or just can not believe them.

The report by probation inspectors checked twenty-four teenage boys, who committed crimes against children.

They came from Cornwall, London's Tower Hamlets, Sheffield, Birmingham, Lancashire and Vale of Glamorgan.

Teams discovered there had been opportunities to catch and stop the behaviour much earlier in almost every case.

Pirate FM has learnt that between 1st April 2011 and 31st March 2012 there were 45 sex crimes in Cornwall and Devon where both the offender and victim were aged under 18.

The year before there had been 34.

The numbers include sexual assaults and rapes.

Chief inspector of probation Liz Calderbank said: "The most shocking finding was that a third of cases had come to the notice of the authorities - usually either schools or social services - previously. These concerns were not acted on, dismissed, minimised or ignored."

Ms Calderbank added: "This, to us, represents a lost opportunity, both for the children themselves and their potential victims."

Questions were not being asked why the children were displaying sexual behaviour, some from quite a young age, the inspectorate said.

The government said it was "driving up the skills and experience of social workers" to ensure they were better equipped to spot early warning signs.

Meantime, Devon and Cornwall Police said it had recorded 45 sex crimes last year, where both the attacker and victim were under the age of 18.

David O'Neill is Deputy Headteacher and in charge of Child Protection at Treviglas School in Newquay.

He said: "We're very vigilant at the school, and I think most schools are now. Looking at a range of different behaviours, the key word for us is inappropriate. We're very keen to have that discussion with students, with parents. It's very open.

"It's one of the last great taboos really, children being perpetrators. It is incredibly rare, but actually it does happen. Talking about these issues, with children, with parents, can only be a good thing."

11:25am 7th February 2013

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