December 12 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
New centres to support victims of serious sexual assault could be set up in the west and north of Suffolk in a bid to improve police detection rates.
The county’s first Sexual Assault Referral Centre (Sarc) was opened in Ipswich three years ago, and is a collaboration between the police, health service, local authorities, and voluntary bodies like the Rape Crisis Centre to work with victims in the hours after they report an offence.
However the Ipswich centre is the only one in the county, and police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore told a meeting of the panel that watches his work that he would like to see more Sarcs open across the county.
He was speaking as the county’s police and crime panel discussed figures which showed that the detection rate for serious sexual assaults was one of the lowest in the country – Suffolk is 41st in the league table of 43 police forces.
One of the issues facing police was that victims were often unwilling to pursue a case. Mr Passmore said: “If someone has to tell their story at Lowestoft or Haverhill and then has to be taken to Ipswich to tell it again at the Sarc, it is perhaps not surprising that they don’t want to go through that.
“I would like to look at providing help to set up more such centres – probably combining with Norfolk to set up a joint centre for Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.”
Det Supt Stuart Sedgwick told the meeting that the clear-up rate was improving, but there needed to be ongoing work with the Crown Prosecution Service to continue this trend.
He said that once cases got to court, Suffolk had a good record in getting convictions compared with other areas – but too few cases actually reached the court stage.
Mr Sedgwick said there had been an increase reports of historic sexual abuse in the wake of the “Savile Effect” over the last year – but pointed out that “historic” abuse referred to any offence that took place 21 days or more before it was reported.
“Historic cases take a lot more effort to investigate, but the clear-up rate is about the same as it is for other cases.” Mr Sedgwick added.