Rise in rape cases as victims gain confidence after high profile cases

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird.
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird.
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A huge rise in the number of rapes has been reported across the region - and have more than tripled across Northumbria during the last year.

The figures have been revealed as part of an inspection into how the allegations are dealt with by police forces across the country as work is carried out to improve how they are handled and investigated.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) say rises may not be due to a increase in crimes, but can be down to how police record crimes or that victims now have a better understanding that a crime has been committed and more confident about reporting it.

Publicity surrounding the Jimmy Savile inquiry and historic attacks such as those probed through Operation Yewtree is also thought to have had an impact.

In Northumbria, the number of incidents against adults in 2010/11 stood at 157 recorded rapes against adults and 188 against children.

Of those, 86 of the adult cases and 18 child cases were later classes as transferred or cancelled crimes, where it was deemed no crime was committed or because of administration reasons

Between 2013/14 that had rising to 182 against adults and 178 against children, increasing against to 547 against adults and 309 against children during the last year, with 32 adult cases and 12 child cases transferred of cancelled.

In 2010, there were 81 prosecutions and 31 convictions and last year, while the figures showed there were 96 prosecutions and 30 convictions.

The findings have been welcomed by Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird.

Mrs Baird, said: “The rise in the number of rape offences recorded in Northumbria does not mean rape is on the rise, it’s about the number of people speaking out.

“The ‘Yewtree effect’ has led to an increased willingness on the part of the victims to come forward and report historical sexual offences.

“There has also been a series of pro-active operations and improved crime recording.

“The last Rape Monitoring Group report raised concerns regarding the number of ‘no crime’ incidents handled by the force, but prior to it being published I instigated a full review which resulted in the re-investigation of 24 cases.”

Across Durham Constabulary, 72 adult cases and 86 child cases were reported in 2010/11, with 11 adult cases and nine child cases transferred or cancelled, and last year, there were 203 adult cases and 138 child cases, with eight adult cases and one child cases later transferred or cancelled.

In 2010, there were 75 prosecutions and 17 convictions, and last year, that stood at 47 prosecutions and 16 convictions.

Helen Murphy, of the forces safeguarding unit, said: “We would like to send a strong message out to offenders whether they abuse online or in the real world, their actions will not be tolerated and through a range of tactics we will seek to identify abusers and hold them to account for their actions.”