Change is needed to tackle rising number of rapes in Suffolk as figures show nearly 550 reports filed in last year

Jane Basham

Jane Basham - Credit: Archant

Reports of rapes in Suffolk are the eighth highest in the country per population, according to a Government report.

The report shows that more incidents of rape are reported to the police in Suffolk, per person living in the area, than the likes of city areas such as Manchester.

The report, from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), highlights all rapes reported in 2015/2016, not just those which lead to a conviction.

There were 355 reported rapes against adult victims and 192 reported rapes against children – 547 in total.

This is up from reports concerning 241 adult victims and 122 children in 2014/2015.

Jane Basham, director at Suffolk Rape Crisis, said the figure is “worrying”, adding: “It is great that more people are coming forward and reporting rapes, but unfortunately we have a low solved rate in Suffolk, as reported earlier this year, so that needs to change to make any kind of difference to rape victims.

“The majority of victims that come to us don’t report rapes and in that way rape is a hidden crime in Suffolk. This report is the tip of the iceberg, and something needs to change to reduce the amount of rapes happening in the county.”

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She said an increase in reported rapes was “unacceptable”, adding: “But that could also account for more people reporting, which is positive, so it’s a mixed bag. The bottom line is that prosecution rates need to improve and we need to continue supporting rape victims.”

The report shows that in 2015/16, 52 rape reports were passed to the CPS to consider charges. Out of these, 29 were charged.

Direct comparisons to the number of convictions for the same period were not made available.

For the year 2015, 30 prosecutions resulted in 11 convictions for rape. In 2014, 33 prosecutions resulted in 14 convictions.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk Constabulary said: “The investigation of rape and serious sexual offences remains one of the top policing priorities for Suffolk.

“The charge/summons ratios for rape present a real challenge. The focus of the constabulary continues to build confidence amongst those who, for a variety of reasons, currently choose not to support prosecution.

“With serious sexual assaults in particular it is important that the victim is able to feel in control. Our approach, therefore, remains being victim focused.

“The number of rapes reported to police is still believed to be a fraction of those crimes committed, so whilst there is no evidence of an increase in offending I would encourage anyone who has been a victim or knows of such an offence to contact us.”

Suffolk Rape Crisis, who support victims, can be contacted by visiting www.suffolkrapecrisis.org.uk or calling 0800 0850 520.