WOMEN think police do not take rape, domestic violence and stalking as seriously as they should, research reveals.
Durham University carried out a study, funded by the Northern Rock Foundation, which found only about half of the 577 women questioned would definitely report domestic violence or stalking.
Nearly 90 per cent would report rape by a stranger, but the figure dropped to 68 per cent for the far more common cases of rape by someone known to the victim.
Durham University criminology lecturer Dr Nicole Westmarland said the women gave a number of reasons for not reporting incidents, including lack of trust in the police and the emotional strain of going through a prosecution.
Dr Westmarland added: “We know the police have put additional effort into victim care and investigations, but this research shows too many women are still reluctant to take the first step of reporting the incident to the police.”
Detective Superintendent Paul Goundry, of Durham Constabulary, said progress has been made in treating victims more sensitively.
He added: “The police are always looking to improve the service we provide to victims of sexual assault.
“Significant improvements have been made in recent years by listening to the views of victims and experts in this field.
“We will continue to put the victim at the heart of our response.”
Vera Baird, QC, was among those present at the launch of the research paper at the university’s School of Applied Social Sciences in Old Elvet, Durham City.
Former Redcar MP Ms Baird is the Labour candidate for the new post of Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria Police.
“If elected I will make tackling violence against women and girls a priority,” she said.
“Police forces in other areas of the country have brought in preventative measures to monitor and deter repeat perpetrators which we in Northumbria can adapt and improve.
“I am committed to increase convictions and to drive down incidences of violence against women and children.”
Elections for a police and crime commissioner for every police force in England and Wales will take place in November.
MP backs calls for anonymity
AN MP has backed calls to grant defendants in rape trials anonymity.
Grahame Morris, MP for Easington, said he is aware of cases where accused rapists have suffered as a result of false claims and believes they should be protected by the law.
Mr Morris said: “I’ve seen some cases where an individual who turned out to be innocent has been subjected to awful abuse and even lost their job.
“There are malicious allegations of rape and the only way to protect people from that and ensure natural justice is to have anonymity for defendants.
“I’m not condoning rape, it is a heinous crime, but the fact these names can appear in the local press can sometimes stir up vigilante reactions.
“People often assume the person charged must be guilty and I think that’s wrong.”
The MP said that once a case is concluded and someone has been found guilty, reporting restrictions should be lifted.
Mr Morris recently retweeted a message in support of Sheffield United’s Ched Evans (pictured left), who was jailed for five years in April after being convicted of raping a 19-year-old woman.
He later deleted the Tweet, claiming it was a mistake to publicise an online hate campaign against Evans’ victim.
“I hadn’t equated the two,” he said. “I didn’t realise it specifically related to that and on reflection, it may not have been the wisest thing to do.”
Evans, 23, is currently seeking leave to appeal the conviction.