WOMEN do not think the police take rape, domestic violence and stalking as seriously as they should do, according to research by Durham University.
But police stress that victims are always their main concern and they are constantly striving to improve the service.
The study, funded by the Northern Rock Foundation, asked a general sample of 577 women in the North- East and Cumbria about their perceptions of the police in relation to these crimes, whether they would report them or not and their reasons.
Women in all four police areas of the region, Cleveland, Durham, Northumbria and Cumbria, said rape, domestic violence and stalking were extremely serious, but many women were reluctant to report these crimes to the police if they happened to them.
Only 49 per cent said they would definitely report domestic violence if it happened to them and although 89 per cent of women would report rape by a stranger, the percentage of women who would report rape by someone known was lower at 68 per cent. Just over half of women in the study, 53 per cent, would definitely report stalking to the police.
The women who would not report these crimes gave a range of reasons, including a lack of trust in the police, fear of re-victimisation by the criminal justice system, and the emotional strain of going through a prosecution.
Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Jason Dickson, of Cleveland Police, said: “It is a little surprising and disappointing that the perception of this sample of women is that the police do not take this kind of offending seriously.
“This is a priority area for Cleveland Police and we have invested resources into this area of policing and have worked closely with partners to improve the victim’s confidence in order to help them feel comfortable in coming forward and seeking help.
“Cleveland Police supports the rights of victims to make a choice as to whether or not to involve the police, however I would hope that this choice wasn’t influenced by a mis-perception that the police or our partners do not take this kind of crime seriously as this is simply not true. We take all reports very seriously and take every measure possible to ensure offenders are brought to justice and victims supported throughout.”
Detective Superintendent Paul Goundry, from Durham Constabulary, said: “The police are always looking to improve the service we provide to victims of sexual assault.
“We have improved our service significantly over recent years by listening to the views of victims and experts in this field and will always continue to put the victim at the heart of our response.”