ALMOST 10 children reported being sexually abused every week in Wiltshire last year, figures show.

The number of sexual assaults against under-18s in the county fell from 536 in 2017/18 to 495 in 2018/19.

But across the region police forces have seen reported assaults rise by 44 per cent since 2014/15, according to figures obtained under freedom of information rules by the NSPCC.

The children’s charity has called on government to provide specialised services around the country. The NSPCC says the focus should be on early, joined-up support from police, local NHS services and children’s services and more help for children who have experienced sexual abuse, offered in child-friendly spaces.

Young people aged 8 to 17-years-old who used the service showed a significant reduction in psychological and behavioural problems, the charity claimed.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless 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. Instead they are shunted from overstretched service to service.

“We need a radical rethink in the way we help these young people, otherwise they could struggle for the rest of their lives with long term, deep seated trauma.”

Nationally, there was an 18 per cent rise in the number of child sex offences involving the internet.

Police chiefs called for more action from social media firms to protect youngsters from harm. The National Police Chiefs' Council lead for child protection, Chief Constable Simon Bailey, said: "Policing is doing all we can to pursue and prosecute criminals who exploit and abuse young people.

"Social media and tech companies need to acknowledge their responsibility and do more to stop children accessing harmful content and prevent abuse on their platforms. They have a social responsibility to design out this type of offending and to cooperate in full with police investigations into child abuse or exploitation."