An MP has expressed concern the number of people receiving custodial sentences for child sexual abuse (CSA) has fallen despite such crimes continuing to happen on a "massive scale".
Rotherham MP Sarah Champion (pictured) said fewer cases are being passed on to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and police "cannot cope" with the volume of offences.
Ms Champion said figures she obtained from the Ministry of Justice show the number of CSA offenders receiving a custodial sentence at crown court dropped 4.7% in 2017 - the first decline since 2013.
The MP has been a prominent campaigner on behalf of victims of child sexual exploitation in the wake of a major abuse scandal in Rotherham.
Overall, the number of people being given custodial sentences for CSA rose by a third between 2010 and 2017, figures show.
The MP said 98% of the 3,234 offenders who received immediate custodial sentences for CSA at crown court in 2017 were men.
Ms Champion said: "I am not surprised that 98% of custodial sentences for child sexual abuse are given to men.
"Child sexual abuse is about power. It's men using their power over the vulnerable to abuse, rape and exploit them.
"The tragedy is that child sexual abuse is still happening on a massive scale.
"Police-recorded child sexual abuse is up 16% so it's really worrying that last year custodial sentences started to fall for the first time since 2013."
She added: "Some people might like to think we're over the worst of it but the numbers clearly say otherwise.
"We have to accept that children are still being abused but the police just cannot cope with the volume.
"Fewer cases are being passed on to the CPS and we are seeing fewer convictions as a result.
"How can we expect victims to have faith in this system when it is so under-resourced?
"Supporting victims as soon as they come forward is vital."
Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Nick Ansell / PA Wire.