The number of sexual offences against children across the Thames Valley area has increased by almost a third in a year.
Figures released by the country’s leading children’s charity show that crimes recorded by police in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire rose from 1,103 in 2012-13 to 1,449 in 2013-14, an increase of 31 per cent.
The NSPCC said that it was not clear why the number of offences had risen to such an extent and said that greater awareness may be giving more victims the courage to come forward.
NSPCC Chief Executive Peter Wanless said: “These figures are disturbing and clearly illustrate child sexual abuse is a continuing and widespread problem that needs urgent action.
“But we know this is still only a fraction of the true number of victims because some endure an agonising wait of many years before telling anyone – and others never reveal what has happened to them.
“It’s time to throw down the gauntlet to government which has to ensure all sexual abuse victims get specialist treatment to help them recover. By the end of this current Parliament there should be no children living in the shadow of abuse.”
Thames Valley Police said that the figures showed a confidence in reporting offences to the police.
Spokeswoman Hannah Jones said: "The protection of vulnerable people from harm in our communities is a priority for Thames Valley Police.
"Any reports will be dealt with sensitively by specialist detectives, offences will be investigated and the Force will work closely with other agencies including Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards to ensure victims receive the appropriate support.
"If you are a victim of sexual offences or know someone who is then please come forward and report this."
Anyone wishing to come forward on sexual offences against children can contact the Thames Valley Police non-emergency number on 101.