Sex offence victims praised for speaking to police as reports of crimes rise by 61% in a year
PUBLISHED: 11:10 17 July 2015 | UPDATED: 11:10 17 July 2015
Campaigners have praised sex offence victims in Suffolk for speaking to police after new figures revealed a 61% increase in the number of crimes being reported.
The number of police-recorded sexual offences rose from 731 in 2013/14 to 1,178 in 2014/15 in the county, Home Office figures published by the Office for National Statistics showed yesterday.
In 2013/14, there was only a 3% annual rise.
But the 61% rise in Suffolk last year was the ninth biggest increase out of the 43 police forces in England and Wales – a higher rate than Norfolk (50%) and Essex (33%).
In England and Wales, the average rise was 37% last year.
Polly Kane, project co-ordinator at Suffolk Rape Crisis, said there was a greater willingness of victims to come forward.
She said: “From our experience, the demand for our service is increasing.
“Between January and June this year our waiting list went up by about a third for our counselling services, so I would certainly say that more people are coming forward.
“The recent media publicity that has been growing and the encouragement for people to come forward have both definitely had an effect, both to report these types of offences to the police and receive support around them.
“But convictions are still very low and survivors are still really worried about the treatment they will get through the criminal justice system, but not necessarily from the police, whose reputation is improving, but through the courts.
“They are of the belief they will stand up and have their integrity and dignity absolutely shredded if they have to give evidence in court.”
Fiona Ellis, operations director at Survivors in Transition, based in Ipswich, said: “We have experienced a tremendous increase in demand over the last two years in particular – over 250%.
“Much of this is directly attributed to increased reporting in the media and people not being able to ignore the memories of their own abuse any longer.
“We continue to work closely with Suffolk Constabulary and support many individuals through reporting and subsequent investigations.”
Suffolk Constabulary’s Temporary Assistant Chief Constable, David Skevington, said: “Our records show the rise is attributable to a renewed confidence in reporting incidents following high-profile national cases.
“Following the Jimmy Savile revelations, we have taken more reports of historical sexual abuse, and we have had a number of successful prosecutions after individuals have found the courage to come forward after being abused as children.”
“We want to encourage victims of any sexual assault to continue to come forward and feel confident to do so, so that we can provide the specialist support they need,” he added.
To contact the Suffolk Rape Crisis, call 0800 0850520. For more information about Survivors in Transition, please call 07765 052282 or, alternatively, send an email to email@example.com