THE number of reported sexual offences against children in Gwent fell slightly in the past year.

Figures from children's charity the NSPCC show 465 such offences were reported to Gwent Police in 2018/19, down from 489 the previous year.

Across Wales, however, the number of child sexual abuse offences has risen to an all-time high. The four Welsh police forces recorded a combined 3,671 offences in the past year – equivalent to 10 offences being committed every day.

Gwent was the only police force in Wales to record a drop in child sexual abuse reports.

Commenting on the Welsh statistics, Des Mannion, the head of NSPCC Cymru/Wales, said: “Record numbers of child sexual offences means we are facing a nationwide crisis in the help available for tens of thousands of children.

“These children are bravely disclosing what happened to them, but in too many cases there is not enough timely, joined-up and child-friendly support."

The NSPCC has welcomed the Welsh Government's action plan of preventing and responding to child sexual abuse, announced in the summer, calling it a "bold and highly-promising development".

That plan is designed to keep children safe from abuse, while offering support to survivors. It aims to raise public awareness, provide children with the right information to speak out, and give adults the skills to listen in the moment of disclosure.

A group of child sexual abuse survivors met AMs on Wednesday to discuss the Welsh Government's action plan.

Among the survivors was Beth (not her real name), who said she "largely supported" the new plan for its focus on victim support.

However, she called for more work to be done tackling the causes of such abuse.

“I think it is vital to stop abuse before it happens or to prevent offending," she said. "A world with less perpetrators means less victims and suffering.

“I think the plan could be strengthened with a better focus on perpetrators – targeting the root of the cause not just the aftermath of trauma. This is crucial for a world without abuse.”

The NSPCC is calling for all children who have experienced sexual abuse to access specialist services in the area where they live, with an emphasis on early joined-up support.

The charity's Childline service provides a safe, confidential place for children who have no one else to turn to, whatever their worry. Children can contact Childline 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, on 0800 1111.

The NSPCC's general helpline number is 0808 800 5000.