THE number of historic child sex abuse cases reported in North and East Devon has almost doubled since the Jimmy Savile case was opened, police say.
The figures, released on Monday by Devon and Cornwall Police, show a 20% increase across the whole region, prompting children's charity NSPCC to urge parents to protect their children.
However, in North and East Devon, the increase of sexual abuse cases from 2012 was 7.5%, but police have seen a more significant rise in the number of historic sexual abuse cases being reported.
Of the 158 cases police recorded, 43% were historic claims of abuse, which police say is likely to have something to do with the Jimmy Savile case which has been widely reported on in the media.
In 2011, before the Jimmy Savile revelations were reported on, only 24% of cases reported were historic.
North Devon detective inspector Praveen Naidoo said: "Offences against children are a matter which Devon and Cornwall Constabulary take incredibly seriously. They are often the most vulnerable members of the community whom we all have a responsibility to keep safe."
He said the increase in the reporting of historic abuse enabled the police to bring offenders to justice who might otherwise have gone unpunished.
He said the policed continued to improve their processes and worked closely with partner agencies. This resulted in identifying offences that before might have gone unreported.
"Devon and Cornwall is a safe place to live and it is important to the constabulary that this is a place where children can thrive," he said.
Regional head of service for NSPCC South West Sharon Copsey said: "Sexual abuse continues to be a terrible scar on our society which won't heal by itself. The police figures are disturbing, particularly as many of the victims are so young. This highlights the urgent need to tackle this problem from an early age."
She said parents and carers could play an important role by ensuring their children were armed with the knowledge to keep themselves safe.