Sex crimes reported in London schools and nurseries have risen by nearly 60 per cent in the last three years, the Evening Standard can reveal.
Police figures show there were nearly 500 reports of sexual offences in the last academic year including rape, assault, grooming and exposure. The youngest victim was said to be two.
Lib-Dem education spokesman John Pugh said he was angered by the levels uncovered by his party through a Freedom of Information request.
“I believe these figures are the tip of the iceberg in London and that is an utterly horrific thought,” he said.
“The youngest victim was two years old. This breaks your heart. It is good news that more victims have the confidence to report abuse, which I believe in part explains the figure.”
He added that he was shocked by reports of “serious and life-changing crimes being committed on very young children on school premises, even in a nursery”. In 2013/14 there were 309 reported crimes.
This figure was 59 per cent higher in 2015/16 at 493 crimes. More than 35 types of sexual offence were reported each year during the period.
Among the most horrifying were the rape of girls and boys aged under 13 and activity with a child with mental disabilities.
Not all victims were necessarily pupils, but all incidents reported were on school premises.
The Met believes the increase could be down to more children reporting incidents, with issues such as “sexting” previously being dealt with by teachers without police involvement.
It is also possible some victims may have reported historical sexual offences which may have occurred when the victim was a child at a specific school.
London’s deputy mayor for policing Sophie Linden said: “Every child should be safe at school and tackling violence against women and girls is at the heart of the Mayor’s Police and Crime Plan, to be published later this month.
We are working with schools in Croydon to trial a programme educating young people on healthy relationships, and investing in young people’s advocates to provide support and education for those affected by sexual exploitation.”
The Mayor’s Office for Police and Crime gives the Safer London charity £276,000 a year for its Empower programme, aimed at reducing sexual offences.
This funds six young people’s advocates for Brent, Enfield, Haringey, Lewisham, Tower Hamlets and west London. The number of Met safer schools officers has also risen from 282 to 550.