"AN appalling insult" – charities in Scotland have expressed their outrage after Boris Johnson said police were "spaffing money up the wall" on childhood abuse investigations.

The former foreign secretary – a favourite to replace Theresa May as Prime Minister – was asked if there was a connection between police cuts and rising knife crime in England while appearing on radio station LBC today.

Using graphic terminology about a sexual act, he said: "An awful lot of money, an awful lot of police time, now goes into these historic offences and all this malarkey and you know £60million I saw has been spaffed up the wall on some investigation into historic child abuse and all this kind of thing.

"What on earth is that going to do to protect the public now?

"What the people want is to see officers out on the streets doing what they signed up to do."

Wide ranging inquiries into historical sexual abuse continue in Scotland and England. They were ordered after many serious claims came to light in the wake of the Jimmy Saville revelations.

Mary Glasgow, chief executive, Children 1st, Scotland’s national children’s charity, said: “It is shocking to hear such outrageous and irresponsible comments about historic child abuse from a senior politician.

“Child abusers rely on their power, status and a culture of looking the other way to keep children silent about the horrific things that are happening to them. Jimmy Saville and other high-profile abuse cases have shown how society’s willingness to turn a blind eye to abuse devastated the lives of child after child.

“Historic child abuse investigations can stop abuse happening to children, the smallest, most vulnerable members of the public, today. They show both child and adult survivors that if you speak out you will be heard, abusers will be stopped and you can begin to recover and move on with your life.

"For the survivors of child sexual abuse we work with, supporting them to recover from their childhood experiences of trauma, language like 'spaffing money up the wall' is an appalling insult given their often horrific experiences.”

Peter Saunders, founder of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, which helps individuals in Scotland, stated: "These comments by Johnson epitomise the cultural and practical challenges we all have had in protecting our children.

"To reduce the rape and assault on children to 'malarkey' sums up our, or should I say, our children’s problem?

"The man is a buffoon at the best of times. Comments such as this from a senior politician, a former Foreign Secretary, make him a dangerous buffoon."

Johnson's comments came shortly before former scout master and foster parent William Quigg, a 77-year-old from Bridge of Weir in Renfrewshire, was jailed for 10 years for sexual offences against two children at addresses in Glasgow in the 1980s.

One of those harmed, Ian Johnstone, waived his anonymity to discuss the sentencing, telling BBC Scotland: "I hope others affected by Quigg will now feel brave enough to come forward.

"Justice works no matter how long ago the offences took place."

Speaking a year to the day that the priest who abused him was convicted, campaigner Andi Lavery, who was targeted as a child, told The National: "Boris Johnson is not fit for public office."

Father Francis Moore denied sexually abusing the three boys and a student priest between 1977 and 1996, but was given a nine year prison sentence. 

Lavery, of survivors' group White Flowers Alba, said: "Getting a child abuser convicted, was that a waste of money? Johnson's comments are absolutely repugnant.

"If he is going to be the next prime minister, is that what we face?"