Sexual offence victims praised for speaking up
Campaigners and politicians in the UK have praised sex offence victims for speaking to police after latest figures showed a significant rise in the number of crimes being reported to officers.
There was a 37% increase in the number of sex offences recorded by forces in England and Wales during the last financial year, compared with the previous 12 months.
The UK Home Office figures showed the number of rapes (29,265) and other sexual offences (58,954) at their highest levels since the introduction of the national crime recording standard 12 years ago, while police data for recorded crime showed rape offences have risen by more than 100% in the past 10 years.
The Office for National Statistics said the rise was partly down to "a greater willingness of victims to come forward to report such crimes".
Katie Russell, national spokeswoman for Rape Crisis in England and Wales, described any increase in the numbers of sexual violence survivors accessing justice as "positive".
She said: "We believe that the rise in recorded sexual offences is partly a result of improved recording practices on the part of the police, which is something we've called for for many years.
"Rape Crisis also believes that these figures reflect an increase in the number of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse reporting to the police.
"However, it is not easy to evidence this from the existing published data. Rape Crisis therefore calls for age at the time of reporting a sexual offence, as well as age at the time the offence was committed, to be recorded and reported on in order to improve understanding of and responses to sexual violence."
Sarah Green, acting director of the End Violence Against Women coalition, said victims were taking confidence from the bravery of others in speaking out about abuse and helping secure convictions.
She said: "We must respond in two ways - we must ensure the police and courts' response is the best it can possibly be. And perhaps even more importantly, we must ensure that the specialist women-led services in our communities, who quietly provide counselling and help day in and day out to many thousands who never report to the police, are available for every survivor who needs them."
Today's figures come as a Press Association investigation reveals police are dealing with their largest ever volume of revenge porn cases, following public campaigns to raise the profile of the cruel craze. It prompted a change in the law and new prosecution guidelines to get cases to court.
Mark Castle, chief executive of the independent charity Victim Support, said: "It's critical that the courage these victims have demonstrated is matched by a commitment from the criminal justice system to treat them with sensitivity, investigate their cases thoroughly and provide high quality support every step of the way."
Crime and Justice Minister Mike Penning said: "More victims of sexual offences and domestic abuse are coming forward - this is something we welcome."