NEW figures show reports of child sex offences recorded by West Mercia Police have risen by 54 per cent in the last five years.

Last year 1,821 child sex offences were recorded, compared to 1,179 in 2014/15.

West Mercia's head of crime and vulnerability has said it is an "absolute priority to safeguard children".

Chief Superintendent Damian Barratt said: “Over the past few years we have worked diligently with our partner agencies to make sure we protect those who are at risk of harm.

“More than 18,000 people across the counties covered by West Mercia Police have been trained to know the signs of exploitation and vulnerability and what to do if they suspect a child or vulnerable person is at risk.

"This training has been delivered to professionals whose role brings them into contact with children and young people and encourages them to report any concerns they may have.

“We have teams dedicated to protecting vulnerable people with officers specially trained to deal with the sensitivities of these complex investigations and have teams who work on child exploitation across the force with officers working closely with safeguarding partners to proactively investigate those exploiting children and young people through child sexual exploitation and wider criminal exploitation.

“We know that high profile cases both locally and nationally have given victims the courage to come forward and report non-recent child sex abuse and would always encourage anyone who is or has been a victim to report this regardless of when the offence took place.

"Even if they do not wish to pursue the offence through the criminal justice system we can ensure we put them in contact with support networks.”

To report concerns of child sex offences to police, call 101 or report it online under the Tell Us About section of the West Mercia Police website

Alternatively, information can be passed anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or by visiting - a website aimed at young people where they can access non-judgmental information and advice about crime.