Suffolk police defend their record over rape prosecutions
- Credit: Archant 2013
Only one in 14 adult rape allegations to Suffolk police resulted in a prosecution last year, according to a report out today.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) said rapes logged by the county’s force where adult victims were involved more than doubled between 2012/13 and 2014/15 from 116 to 241.
The increase is accepted as reflecting a national trend due to soaring numbers of historic offences being reported following what has been termed as the ‘Jimmy Savile effect’.
However, according to the HMIC the number of charges and summonses issued in Suffolk in 2014/15 was 16 (7% of the total recorded). There were also 16 in 2012/13 equating to 14% of the total.
Last year’s figures place Suffolk Constabulary as 40th out of 42 forces in a comparison of the charge/summons ratio for adult rape.
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The HMIC did concede there is a time lag between stages of the criminal justice process, and the cases referred to in different sets of its figures may not “follow on” from each other.
Police also pointed out the report needs to be set in context in terms of relatively small numbers having a large effect on percentages, and stress they do not want it to discourage victims from coming forward.
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A separate comparison of prosecutions for all cases, including those involving child victims, in the calendar years 2012 and 2014 show there was a 50% increase from 22 to 33. Convictions also rose from 11 to 15 respectively.
Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: “I can assure you the Constabulary’s response to serious sexual offences is something I monitor very closely.
“As the report says, numbers can never tell the full story so I think it is very important we do not lose sight of the fact that in Suffolk we have focussed extra resources to deal with these horrific crimes.
“Last year I increased the council tax precept to fund 20 extra investigators to focus specifically on these serious sexual offences and I really do hope this will make a difference.
“Victims should be, and always will be, our main focus.”
Detective Superintendent Dave Cutler, of Suffolk Constabulary, said: “Along with forces nationally, the number of reported rapes in Suffolk has continued to increase significantly in recent years, with Suffolk showing an increase in reports of 83% over the last financial year.
“As a force, we have responded to this shift in demand by increasing the number of officers who deal with these crimes and by continuing to review our investigative resources according to demand, as we look to re-design our teams.
“The report notes a significant increase in the number of prosecutions in the county over the past year, along with a high increase in the number of convictions. This reflects the commitment of our teams to carrying out detailed, high quality investigations to bring those responsible to justice.
“In every report of rape, the needs and wishes of the victim are at the forefront of any police investigation. In many cases, victims do not want to think about prosecutions and court trials but want to be listened to, believed and helped, and are able to access the specialist support that can be provided by police and partners.
“There has also been a significant increase in the number of reports of historic sexual offences and offences involving children, both of which involve extremely complex investigations, often taking a long time to prosecute.
“The Constabulary has undertaken a number of measures to further improve its response to reports of rape and to help raise awareness amongst local communities.
“An awareness campaign will be launched around the Christmas period that will focus on ‘consent’ making it clear that sex without consent is rape and officers will be working with clubs and bars to help increase the awareness and vigilance of door staff.
“Alongside this, considerable work has been ongoing to ensure that every report is correctly recorded in line with the national crime recording standards and investigating teams work closely with the Crown Prosecution service to obtain early advice on investigations. The Sexual Assault Referral Centre provides victims of these crimes with a high quality and sensitive service and provides an alternative route for victims to report an offence and receive support without having to involve the police.
“Every report of sexual assault is taken extremely seriously and investigated thoroughly and we would encourage anyone who has been a victim to have the confidence to come forward to receive the support that they need and deserve.”