THE number of rape cases reported to a police force has almost doubled in the last five years.
A report into how the sex attacks are dealt with by Durham Constabulary has revealed the numbers have risen, with detectives stating work to encourage victims to come forward is one of the reasons behind the increase.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has said rises may not be due to an increase in prevalence, but down to improvements in how police record crimes, victims having a better understanding that a crime has been committed or more confident in speaking out, and that historical abuse cases such as the inquiry into Jimmy Savile’s attacks have had an impact.
In 2009/10, Durham recorded 61 offences against adults and 59 against children, which rose to 147 adult cases between 2013/14 and 108 child cases.
In that first period, 147 suspects’ cases were referred to the Crown Prosecution Service, leading to 65 charges, and last year 57 defendants were referred and 38 led to charges.
Ministry of Justice data shows in 2009, 48 prosecutions went to court, with 12 resulting in convictions, the 2013 statistics showed 33 prosecutions went ahead, with 12 resulting in convictions.
Helen Murphy, from the force’s safeguarding team, said: “Durham Constabulary and its partners have put a lot of energy into encouraging victims of rape and serious sexual offences to come forward and report it.
“Durham Police work with a range of agencies to tackle sexual violence.
“This includes preventative work which involves education with young people, supporting anyone who may have experienced abuse and identifying offenders and bringing them to account for their action.
“In line with other forces we have seen an increase in reporting, we believe this is due to an increased national focus on sexual violence and exploitation which has given victims the confidence to come forward.
“We however know there is still much to do and are currently finalising a multi-agency action plan to address all aspects of domestic and sexual violence.”