Posted: Wed 30th Nov 2016

860 calls to dedicated NSPCC football abuse hotline in a week as North Wales Police launch investigation

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Nov 30th, 2016

The NSPCC’s dedicated hotline launched to offer support to victims of child sex abuse within the world of football has received 860 calls – from across the UK – within one week of opening.

The chief executive of the NSPCC Peter Wanless said his organisation has had a ‘staggering surge’ in calls to a dedicated football hotline which he says “reveals the worrying extent of abuse that had been going on within the sport.”

North Wales Police confirmed on Wednesday it is investigating alleged historical child abuse in youth football.

Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Williams said:

“I can confirm that we are in receipt of a number of reports of non-recent sexual abuse within a football setting.

We are currently working with the national centre, Operation Hydrant, to ensure our response is coordinated and efficient; the people who have courageously reported what happened to them are central in our considerations in this regard.”

Along with North Wales Police neighbouring the Cheshire force has launched investigations as have Essex, Norfolk, North Yorkshire, Dorset, Staffordshire, Greater Manchester, Cambridgeshire, Hampshire, Northumbria Police forces, Scotland Yard and Police Scotland.

In its first few days, NSPCC helpline staff made three times more referrals to the police and other agencies than during the first few days of the Savile scandal.

The football helpline was set up with support and funding from the Football Association after former footballer Andy Woodward revealed he had been abused as a young athlete at Crewe Alexandra Football Club, and more professional players subsequently came forward.

Within two hours of the helpline opening on Wednesday November 23, it received 50 contacts from members of the public, and in the first week 860 calls were made.

Within the first three days of lines being open, NSPCC staff made 60 referrals to police or children’s services.

This is more than triple the number of referrals made in the first three days of the NSPCC’s Savile helpline opening in 2012.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said:

“Anyone who wants to contact us can do so in confidence, with the knowledge they will be listened to and supported. In future footballers – both young players and former athletes – must have the confidence to open up about sexual abuse and feel able to come forward.”

The NSPCC offers advice for parents on talking to their children about abuse and advice for parents on child safeguarding in sports clubs such as questions to ask the club about child protection measures in place.

The NSPCC’s football abuse helpline can be contacted 24 hours a day on 0800 023 2642.

NSPCC Website.

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