Merseyside Police recorded more than 270 sexual offences against children aged between four and eight last year, it has been revealed.

A charity's Freedom of Information request to police forces showed that in 2018/19 nationally there were at least 7,618 recorded sexual offences against children aged four to eight - with 274 in Merseyside.

In response, the NSPCC is this week relaunching its Talk PANTS campaign, which helps parents with children aged eight and under to have vital conversations about staying safe from sexual abuse.

The NSPCC also revealed that last year hundreds of children under the age of 11 living across the UK contacted Childline about sexual abuse.

The charity’s PANTS rules, catchy Pantosaurus song and activity pack help parents find the right words to talk to their children about staying safe.

They don’t mention the words sex or abuse so it is easier for parents to tackle the sensitive subject.

The NSPCC is encouraging parents to donate to the charity to get the PANTS activity pack and help protect a generation of children from abuse.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: “It is very concerning that the number of recorded sexual offences against young children is at such a high level and it is vital we do more to help them stay safe from sexual abuse.

"That is why Talk PANTS is such an important tool for parents as it enables them to have vital conversations with their child in an age appropriate way.”

Donna-Marie Wright, a mum to seven children, is a passionate supporter of the NSPCC’s Talk PANTS campaign.

She said: “I think Talk PANTS is brilliant.

"Having been abused myself between the ages of seven and 18, I believe it’s essential that all parents talk to their children about staying safe from sexual abuse.

“Many parents may worry that talking to their children about this sensitive subject will be scary and confusing but the PANTS activities help you find the right words.

"There is no mention of sex or abuse and when I’ve used them with my own young children, I’ve found the resources to be incredibly useful.”

Detective Superintendent Dave McCaughrean, safeguarding lead across Merseyside Police, said: "Children are among the most vulnerable people in society and we must work together to do all we can to protect them from all forms of abuse.

"I cannot think of anything you would take more seriously than child sexual abuse and all our officers from the chief constable down have been trained in awareness and understanding of child safeguarding.

"Across Merseyside we have dedicated teams who work closely with social services and other partners - effective communication is key in protecting young people from abuse.

"Our officers are trained to listen to the voice of the child, to take as much time as possible to listen to the child or young person.

"I would urge anyone who believes a child they know is being abused to get in contact with us.  

"Our main priority is not to make arrests but to safeguard the child."

Call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 

Visit the NSPCC website here