‘Shocking failure’: Rape, sex offenses spike in England & Wales

‘Shocking failure’: Rape, sex offenses spike in England & Wales
The number of recorded rapes and sexual offences has dramatically risen in the past 12 months, despite overall crime levels in the UK falling to their lowest since the 1980s.

Data recorded by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) showed a 29 percent increase in the number of recorded rape cases last year, while the number of overall crimes filed as sex offences rose by 21 percent to 22,116.

Additionally, the ONS data showed the number of rape attacks carried out at knifepoint had risen by 48 percent, from 199 to 294. Sex offences committed at knifepoint similarly rose by 22 percent, from 91 to 111.

The ONS said the rise may be due to a growing willingness among victims to report attacks to the authorities. They also said police forces may be increasingly open to investigate such cases fully.

“We have seen over the last few years a notable rise in victims coming forward to report historical offences,” ONS head of crime statistics John Flatley told the BBC.

Reuters / Cathal McNaughton

“So victims are coming forward now to report recent occurrences rather than historical ones and it’s certainly the case the police are taking action to improve their recording and handling of rape investigations,” he added.

However, campaigners were less impressed with the findings, claiming the figures were too inconclusive to draw any accurate conclusions on the effects of policing.

“Whether the figures reflect an increase in the numbers of sexual violence survivors coming forward to seek criminal justice, or an improvement in the consistency with which these serious crimes are recorded by police forces, or an increase in such crimes themselves, what is clear is that they are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Rape Crisis England & Wales spokesperson Katie Russell.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper also said that the figures revealed a “shocking failure” to bring perpetrators of sex crime to justice.

A total of 7.1 million crimes in England and Wales were reported this year, a fall of around 16 percent. According to crime prevention minister Norman Baker, there were “2.3 million fewer crimes” since the coalition government came into power in 2010.

However, while official statistics suggest an overall fall in crime, a report published earlier this year by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) shows around 20 percent of crimes may not be recorded by police forces. One in five crimes may therefore not be accounted for.

ICYMI