British police say the number of potential suspects in the investigation into child abuse in football now stands at 155.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) announced on Thursday that the number of clubs referenced in the UK-wide probe now stands at 148 – an increase of 60 since figures were last published on December 9.
The indicative number of victims has reached 429, ranging in age from four to 20 at the time of the alleged offence, with the “vast majority” relating to football. Ninety-eight per cent of the victims are male.
Chief constable Simon Bailey, the NPCC lead on child abuse investigations, said in a statement: “We are ensuring an efficient and effective service-wide approach to investigating allegations, removing the potential for duplication and enabling the timely and effective sharing of intelligence and information between forces.
“We are also liaising closely with the Football Association to ensure all relevant information they hold is shared to inform investigations moving forward.
“We continue to urge anyone who may have been a victim of child sexual abuse to report it by dialling 101, or contacting the dedicated NSPCC helpline, regardless of how long ago the abuse may have taken place. We will listen and treat all reports sensitively and seriously. Anyone with any information regarding child sexual abuse is also urged to come forward.
“When allegations are reported it enables police to assess whether there are current safeguarding risks and ensure that appropriate action is being taken to prevent children being abused today.”
Operation Hydrant – the taskforce set up in June 2014 to investigate child abuse allegations – has, as of December 21, received a total of 819 referrals from the dedicated NSPCC helpline and from police forces in relation to non-recent child sexual abuse within football.