Reports of rape increase in South West London despite fall in crime rates

Reported rapes have increased by 40% in South West London over the past year, despite a 15% fall in crime rates across England and Wales.

A report released last week by the Office for National Statistics illustrated that the reduction in crime is mostly due to a decrease in household theft (-25%), violence (-22%) and vandalism (-15%).

However, it also shows that overall reports of sexual offences have increased by an average of  20% in England and Wales, with Merton seeing a rise of 53.7%, Sutton 42.2%, and Croydon 32.6%.

Jeff Gardner, London Locality Director of Victim Support, said: “The increase in reporting of sexual offences may well be due to increased confidence victims have in coming forward following high profile investigations into historical abuse by figures such as Jimmy Savile.”

“While this ‘Yewtree effect’ is a positive development, it is critical these victims have access to the specialist support they need as they pass through the criminal justice system and come out the other side.”

Operations Coordinator at Rape Crisis South London, Fiona Elvines, said that rape is still consistently under-reported but recognised that a lot of work has gone into improving the way cases are treated by the authorities.

She praised efforts by Kier Starmer, former Head of the Crown Prosecution Service, to encourage police to open up old cases and the role organisations such as her own have played in making police officers more knowledgeable about how to deal with victims of rape.

Ms Elvines said: “There is no way of knowing if it’s the police who have changed the way they’re recording crime, it may be that more women and men are reporting it more, or that there are actually more rapes happening.

“Rapists come in all ages, sizes, in groups and on their own. Some are known and some are not. Some are family members, partners or ex-partners.”

An increase in reports is not an indicator of the amount of rapes crimes perpetrated as due to its nature it cannot be quantified unless victims speak out.

For free confidential advice and information contact Victim Support on 0845 30 30 900 or reach Rape Crisis South London at 0808 802 9999.

Picture courtesy of Ray Forster, with thanks

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