More police forces investigate football sex abuse allegations

North Yorkshire and North Wales police are the latest forces to confirm they are probing allegations of historical child sex abuse in football – taking the tally to 11.

Dorset, Staffordshire, Greater Manchester, Cambridgeshire, Hampshire, Cheshire, Northumbria, Scotland Yard and Police Scotland are all also investigating allegations of abuse.

So far police have received 250 reports and more than 50 calls were made to an NSPCC hotline set up for sexual abuse victims in football in the initial hours of opening.

North Wales Police Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Williams said they are “in receipt of a number of reports of non-recent sexual abuse within a football setting”.

He added: “We are currently working with the national centre, Operation Hydrant, to ensure our response is co-ordinated and efficient; the people who have courageously reported what happened to them are central in our considerations in this regard.”

As the Football Association (FA) begins an internal review, North Yorkshire Police confirmed in a statement that it is also “one of the forces that has been contacted by the national Operation Hydrant in relation to non-recent sexual abuse allegations”.

More than 20 former players have now spoken out about alleged abuse, including former Newcastle United footballer Derek Bell, who waived his anonymity on BBC Radio 5 Live.

He said he was sexually assaulted when he played for a local boys’ club in the 1970s and, after seeing his abuser again more than 20 years after the offences, decided to try to kill him.

“I went to his house with a 12in knife hidden in my pocket, and I kicked his door in,” Mr Bell told Emma Barnett on the 5 Live Daily show.

“Luckily for him, that evening, he wasn’t in.

“I told my friends at that point because I’d kept it a secret for a lot of years.

“I went and told my close friends, who’ve been absolutely incredibly supportive, and told them what had happened to me, and they said ‘Right, let’s do something about it’, but I said ‘No, I’ll do something about it’.”

Changing his mind about his course of action, he said he headed back to the man’s house a couple of days later with a recording device in his pocket to ask him why and what his motivation was.

Mr Bell said: “And not one time did he say he was sorry.”

His abuser was eventually jailed after Mr Bell took the tape to the police.

In the House of Lords on Tuesday, Baroness Chisholm said: “Since this has come out, 250 people have already contacted the police in England and Wales.”

The national child abuse inquiry headed by Professor Alexis Jay is considering whether to investigate abuse in football as part of its overarching probe, Culture Secretary Karen Bradley told MPs.

And ministers are writing to all national sporting bodies to ask them to “redouble their efforts” to protect children in the wake of the scandal.

FA chairman Greg Clarke has admitted he does not know if abuse in football was covered up by the authorities as he scrambles to respond to “the biggest crisis” he has ever seen the game face.

A number of football clubs have become embroiled in the scandal – Chelsea have announced they have retained a law firm to carry out an investigation concerning one of the club’s 1970s employees, who is now dead.

The FA has commissioned a “dedicated NSPCC helpline for adults who were victims of sexual abuse in childhood within the football industry” which can be contacted at all hours on 0800 023 2642.

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