Sexual assault and domestic abuse victims need confidence in justice system says Suffolk PCC Tim Passmore
Suffolk police bosses have said that victims of serious sexual offences and domestic abuse need to have confidence in the justice system in order to come forward.
Latest Suffolk police figures revealed that the number of serious sexual offences had increased by nearly 35% in the last 12 months compared to the three year average, while fewer than one in 10 were solved.
Less than 50% of domestic abuse cases reported resulted in a victim wanting to pursue prosecution.
Speaking at Friday’s Suffolk Police and Crime Panel, where councillors from all authorities across the county quizzed the PCC, Mr Passmore said there was a “heck of a lot to do” but said progress was being made.
“It’s something I think it’s fair to say is a key priority and we do need to make more progress.
“Yes, I accept we would like to see the solved rate improve but I would also say the demand has shot up massively.
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Her added: “There’s a heck of a lot to do here,” and urged the panel to understand the complexity of the investigations.
Mr Passmore said data on mobile phones had to be meticulously processed which were the equivalent of “reams and reams” of documents.
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The panel heard that high profile historic sexual abuse cases had given people more confidence to come forward, which had contributed to the increase, as well as strong work by voluntary sector organisations supporting victims.
However, Mr Passmore said that while the force had a strong prosecution rate with cases that went to court, but questioned whether sentencing was effective enough to make victims who had come forward pursue a court case.
Other issues raised were the number of applicants for becoming a detective, as response car police officers were paid more and had more favourable shift patterns, as well as poor levels of government funding.
“The funding is unacceptable. It’s not good enough and if they think I am going to be quiet about that they are wrong,” he added.
Suffolk chief constable Gareth Wilson said he insisted on a culture where the victim was put first.
Other work included three dedicated PCSOs visiting schools to educate youngsters on the issues, but Mr Passmore admitted it was a “long burner”.