An average of two sex offences against children were recorded in Cheshire every day last year, according to figures obtained by the NSPCC.
Cheshire police logged 732 such crimes – including rape, sexual assault and sexual exploitation – which was a dramatic rise from 445 the year before.
Two-hundred-and-seventeen of those involved youngsters aged 10 and under.
Children’s protection charity the NSPCC says child sex offences recorded by police in the UK are at an all-time high.
Nationally, the figure soared by nearly a fifth to 55,507 crimes against children and young people – an average of 152 a day.
Now the NSPCC – which obtained the statistics through requests to forces – is calling for specialist training for police investigating online child abuse, effective rehabilitation for child sex offenders, and investment in early intervention services to help children recover.
Chief executive Peter Wanless said: “This steep rise lays bare just how extensive this appalling crime against children has become, claiming multiple victims every hour, some of whom are yet to say their first word.
“Sexual abuse can shatter a child’s life and leave them feeling ashamed, depressed, or even suicidal.
“Now, more than ever, victims need help as soon as possible to help them recover from their ordeals and go on to lead full and happy lives.
“Government must commit funds to early intervention that better helps these children who, through no fault of their own, are enduring so much pain.”
Police improving their recording methods and online grooming have been suggested as potential factors behind the increase.
Figures released by Cheshire Constabulary following a Freedom of Information request by The Chronicle reveal that 988 people who committed sex offences against children or adults called the county home as of December 13, 2016.
The NSPCC’s ‘Speak Out. Stay Safe’ programme visits primary schools across the UK to help children learn the signs of abuse and what to do if they have been the victim of such abuse.