TEN per cent of sexual offences involving Barnsley children occurred while they were in their schools or colleges, South Yorkshire Police bosses have revealed.

Sexual-related offences are now the second-most reported crime type involving children behind violence - accounting for 15.5 per cent - according to a police report, which shows 347 concerns of welfare were registered between April and June.

The largest percentage of victims are girls - aged between 12 and 13 - and a new police sub-group is being launched to focus on schools and colleges due to the shock findings.

Online crime against youngsters is also on the up, with 950 reports of a sexual nature between May 2021 and April 2022.

“To help further tackle the threat in relation to schools and colleges, the Barnsley Safeguarding Children Partnership will establish a new sub-group to specifically focus on the priority,” the report said.

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“Child protection and the investigation of neglect, abuse and exploitation offences remains a key priority for the Barnsley district.

“Since the NSPCC and the force collaborated to jointly train every member of the organisation and significant numbers of our partners, the reporting of concerns around children are continuing to rise.

“In the months of April to June 2022 the number of children recorded as victims of crime has risen to 780 from 618 the previous quarter.

“A total of 65.2 per cent of those crimes are violence against the person offences - the second-most reported crime type against children was sexual offences at 15.5 per cent.

“Partnership child exploitation provision in Barnsley has developed and will continue to evolve to meet a growing need to safeguarding young people in the local community.

“We are currently developing a child exploitation problem-solving plan to be jointly delivered through a dedicated sub-group of the Barnsley Safeguarding Children Partnership.

“Additionally, an officer has recently taken post who will provide vital support in early intervention for those vulnerable to but not formally identified as at risk.

Barnsley Council launched Operation Encompass alongside South Yorkshire Police last year, enabling the town’s school and college leaders to act as lookouts in a bid to spot any signs of abuse.

Every education setting in the town is now signed up - something which the council praised.

“The model operates by an email exchange between the police and children’s social care giving the details of the children present during a domestic violence incident that has occurred overnight,” a statement added.

“Education establishments participating in the scheme have clear signage in their buildings that this setting is part of the scheme and this is clearly conveyed to parents who understand that information will be shared by the police with children’s social care and that the school will be notified.”