Football sexual abuse victims could be as young as four years old according to police

The number of potential abusers has also almost doubled in recent weeks to 155

BY Newstalk 14:25 Wednesday 21 December 2016, 14:25 21 Dec 2016

Children as young as four are among the potential victims in the football sex abuse scandal, police in the United Kingdom have revealed.

The ages of the 429 potential victims are from four to 20 years old, according to new figures on Operation Hydrant.

Earlier this month, there were 350 potential victims.

The number of potential abusers has also almost doubled in recent weeks to 155.

Earlier in December the number stood at 83, according to figures from the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC).

Operation Hydrant is looking into historical child sexual abuse claims in the game.

The investigation ballooned after several former professional footballers came forward to say they were abused as youngsters by people working for clubs as coaches or scouts.

Some 819 referrals have so far been made from police forces and from the NSPCC helpline - up from 639.

Detectives say they are sifting through the referrals to see whether any information is duplicated and if it relates to a victim or a witness.

The football clubs impacted has grown from 98 to 148.

However, it does not mean they are under investigation - just that they have been mentioned in the referrals.

The "vast majority" relate to football, but the National Police Chiefs' Council said a number of other sports had also been mentioned.

NPCC lead for child protection, Chief Constable Simon Bailey, said: "Allegations received by police forces across the country are being swiftly acted upon.

"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."

Last week, former football coach Barry Bennell, 62, was remanded in custody after being charged with five counts of indecent assault on a boy.

The offences he is charged with are said to have happened between 1981 and 1985 when the alleged victim was under the age of 15.

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