Rape victims urged to report the crime (13 Oct 2016)

Officers from West Yorkshire Police are continuing to urge rape victims to come forward and have the confidence to report the crime after new data showed the number of reported rapes has increased.

The Rape Monitoring Group has today (Thursday) published a report about how cases of rape are dealt with at all stages of the criminal justice process for police forces.

The report shows that in West Yorkshire in 2014/2015 there were 818 recorded adult rapes and 523 recorded child rapes. In 2015/2016 these figures had increased to 1,156 and 756, representing a 41 per cent and a 45 per cent increase. A large amount of this increase is due to changes in the way in which police forces record all crime and it is estimated that the actual increased risk of being a victim of rape was around 6 per cent.

Detective Superintendent Darren Minton of West Yorkshire Police's Safeguarding Central Governance Unit, said:

"We know that for many years rape victims were either too afraid to come forward and report what happened to them or did not have the confidence in police to come forward and tell us of their ordeal.

"We are of course concerned about the large increase in rape allegations and dealing with it is a top priority for West Yorkshire Police. We continually review our service delivery to ensure the best possible service to victims and to achieve the best opportunity of bringing an offender to justice.

"For instance in April 2015 we opened a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) to help victims and survivors of sexual offences. The STAR (Surviving Trauma After Rape) project is permanently housed in the building which is jointly funded by the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire Police and NHS England.

"Our approach is now much more victim focussed and we have run high-profile campaigns to highlight the nature of rape and other sexual offences and in part this approach indicates that more people are prepared to come forward.

"We treat all allegations of rape very seriously - especially where the victim is a child - and the issue of Child Sexual Exploitation is one of the most important challenges facing the police and is a priority for West Yorkshire Police. We are committed to doing everything possible to ensure children are safe, cared for and protected from harm.

"High profile cases that have attracted national coverage have also helped to increase the number of people coming forward.

"I hope that this report helps to further improve the confidence people have to be able to come forward and report what happened to them.

"The report also shows that although the number of convictions for rape has increased by 24 per cent (from 68 in 2014 to 84 in 2015), the number of charges did fall - in 2014/2015 the figure was 221 and in 2015/16 it was 182 (a decrease of 21 per cent).

"What this shows is that we need to work even harder with our partners in the criminal justice system to help achieve a prosecution when someone is charged. This partnership approach is vital to our work in safeguarding.

"I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to any victim of rape to come forward and report what happened - you will be believed. Call police on 999 in an emergency or 101 for help and advice."

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson added:

"The findings of this latest report underlines the ongoing need to focus on preventing and tackling these awful crimes.

"I continue to work closely with the Force to ensure everything possible is being done to encourage victims, survivors and witnesses to come forward and bring the perpetrators to justice.

"For instance, I worked to introduce the dedicated Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) in 2014 and this has been a significant step forward to improving the services available in West Yorkshire.

"Similarly, I commissioned an Independent Sexual Violence Adviser service providing a much more consistent community based service, making it easier to report such crimes and receive the after-care support needed to cope with and recover from the consequences.

"There is more to be done, however, and protecting vulnerable victims will remain an integral part of my forthcoming Police and Crime Plan."

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2018