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16 October 2014, 06:42 | Updated: 16 October 2014, 06:46
There could be "many more'' cases of child sex abuse like that uncovered in Rotherham where at least 1,400 children were sexually exploited, Norfolk's top police officer has said.
The scale of the scandal is likely to be higher than previously thought, Chief Constable Simon Bailey added, with tens of thousands of victims of the crime each year in Britain.
Mr Bailey, the national lead officer for the child protection and abuse investigation, told the Guardian the issue of child sex exploitation had "for too long been a hidden crime''.
In an interview with the newspaper he said: "We don't know for sure but I think it's tens of thousands of victims (a year) of an appalling crime''.
Mr Bailey said there may be more cases elsewhere in the country like that recently uncovered in Rotherham where at least 1,400 children had been exploited between 1997 and 2003.
Professor Alexis Jay's report, published in August, questioned why highly placed public figures had not tackled the problem.
A number of high profile figures resigned following the report, including Rotherham's strategic director of children's services, Joyce Thacker, and South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright, who had been the councillor with responsibility for children's services between 2005 and 2010.
Responding to criticism of the police for their investigations of sex gangs, Mr Bailey said it must be remembered that the majority of cases of child sex abuse take place in the home.
But he admitted that continued investigations into police forces across the UK could see ``many more Rotherhams to come''.
He also warned that other figures in authority including teachers and health workers have a responsibility to look out for and report signs of possible child abuse.