THE size and scope of the unprecedented number of inquiries into historical child abuse in the UK can be revealed for the first time today following a Sunday Herald investigation.

The Sunday Herald has learned that there are currently 14 major police operations, four public inquiries and six other investigations - including probes by the BBC, the police watchdog, and two government departments - are either ongoing or have been carried out to date.

Although, full details on cost are impossible to gather at this stage, it has been uncovered that nearly £66 million has or is being spent on half of the investigations.

Last week, Edward Heath became the latest high-profile figure to be linked to sex abuse allegations, with seven police forces alone investigating the former prime minister.

Gabrielle Shaw, chief executive of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC), said they were not surprised by the scale of the investigations into abuse.

“Society in general is waking up to the true scale and scope of the issue of child sexual abuse and exploitation,” she said.

“We have been going for almost 20 years and the main service that NAPAC offers is a confidential telephone helpline where people can call in for a number of different reasons.

“A large part of it is they want to disclose their experiences and we have heard many high profile names – so in terms of the fact it is high profile people that is coming to light now, it is not a surprise to us - and nor is the scale and scope of it.”

The Sunday Herald was able to obtain costs for half of the investigations which are or have taken place. The figures ranges from the estimated £20 million which will be spent on the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry to £17,140 which had been spent by April 2015 on Operation Garford, which is examining historic abuse allegations centred on schools in Suffolk.

An inquiry by the Government of Ireland into institutional abuse in 1999, which took 10 years to complete, cost around £70 million. The Royal Commission in Australia, which began investigating institutional child sex abuse two years ago and is due to complete in 2017, has a budget of around £180 million until next year.

Shaw pointed out it was important to recognise the toll on the victims and survivors when considering the cost of investigating abuse cases.

“There is the personal and emotional cost, but also we know adults who were victims of child sexual abuse are overrepresented in statistics on issues such as suicide, mental health, drug and alcohol abuse and homelessness,” she said.

“So what cost is that to society? If we can prevent that in the first instance it has to be better for everyone.

“We know that what most survivors want is the truth and surely there can’t be a price on that.”

The police investigations are being co-ordinated by Operation Hydrant, led by the National Police Chief’s Council. In May, it released figures that revealed more than 1,400 men are being investigated by forces across the UK over allegations of historical sexual abuse.

At that time Police Scotland said it was investigating 110 suspects including 37 high-profile figures. The cases date as far back as 1947 to 2013. The force has said it is not investigating any allegations linked to Edward Heath.

A Police Scotland spokesman added: "We fully recognise that it is often a number of years before victims feel able to report such crimes, and would wish to give reassurance that these reports will be treated seriously regardless of the passage of time or status of the perpetrator.”