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18 Mar, 2021 13:18

Vast majority of sex assaults on 1.6mn adults in England & Wales unreported to police, UK crime survey says

Vast majority of sex assaults on 1.6mn adults in England & Wales unreported to police, UK crime survey says

Crime data for England and Wales shows that an estimated 1.6 million people suffered sexual assault – or attempted assaults – since they were 16 years old, according to surveys from the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS says that almost half of those surveyed – 49% – were sexually assaulted more than once, and only 16% reported the assault to police. Around one in ten – 12% of men and 10% of women – contemplated suicide after their attacks.

Among those that didn’t report assaults, nearly two in five didn’t think the police could help, 34% said it would be humiliating, and 40% said they were embarrassed by being a victim.

The data analysed by the ONS was compiled from surveys carried out in the years ending March 2017 and March 2020, though the assaults may not have occurred within that period.

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The ONS report comes days after thousands of women took to the streets in London and elsewhere at vigils following the disappearance and murder of 33-year-old Sarah Everard. A diplomatic protection officer with London police has been charged in her death.

Those vigils aimed to highlight the violence faced by women every day and the new ONS data shows grim statistics. It found that nearly one in ten were attacked on the street, in a car park or park or other open public space. More than a third of victims reported being sexually assaulted in their own home.

The 1.6 million covers adults aged between 16 to 74 years who had experienced sexual assault, rape or penetration, or attempted sexual assault. More than one-fifth (22%) reported being sexually assaulted more than three times since they were 16.

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Almost half were assaulted by their partner or ex, and 37% were attacked by a family member. Some 12% say they were sexually assaulted by friends, while 10% reported being raped on dates.

More than one in seven women reported being raped by a stranger, with almost half of male victims (43%) saying they didn’t know their attacker.

The ONS data found that both 39% of attackers and the same percentage of victims were thought to be under the influence of alcohol when the most recent assaults occurred. One in 20 victims thought they had been drugged by their attacker.

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