Image used with permission from Pixabay.
The number of rapes reported in Cleveland has increased dramatically since 2012.
In the past year 114 rapes were reported, showing an almost 90% increase on the previous year, with 61 reported rapes.
The statistics come from Freedom of Information requests to the Crown Prosecution Service and Cleveland Police.
Dilys Davy, chief executive of Arch North East, which aims to support victims of sexual assault, explained that despite the rise in reports, it does not necessarily mean more people are being raped.
She said:“People have more faith in the criminal justice system and police.
“Since incidents like the Jimmy Savile investigation, police are recording better and there is more support for victims of sexual violence than there used to be.”
This support includes more voluntary organisations, more awareness, and a faster response time, meaning victims would not need to relive the experience in court up to two years later.
The statistics show that the increase in Cleveland is far higher than the national rise in reported rapes, which was 31% in the past year- its highest point in ten years.
The number of reports in 2013/12 was a smaller increase on the preceding year, which was 15%, with 53 reports.
As the Freedom of Information statistics show, for the year 2012/13 there were 50 female victims and three male victims.
Of these 53 reports one ended with a caution, 13 people were charged, three received summons, 32 remain undetected and four were classed as no crime.
In response Cleveland Police said: “When a rape is reported to the police all such allegations would result in an officer attending and all would be investigated.”
In the following year 2013/14 there were 59 female victims and two male victims.
Of these 15 were charged, four were classed as no crime, 41 remain undetected and one case is still live.
The statistics provide interesting figures, following suggestions that many male victims refuse to speak out in fear of being ignored.
It is estimated that male survivors account for at least 12% of sexual assaults each year and this has led to new funding and more open discussions about the issue.
This includes more sexual assault storylines on television focusing on male victims, such as a plot line in this year’s season of the television show Outlander.
In the year 2014/15 there were 106 female victims and eight male victims.
Eight were charged, eight were classed as no crime, 18 are still live, 79 remain undetected and the status of one case is unknown.
Despite the rising trend in the number of rapes reported, the number of prosecutions remains fairly consistent over the years investigated.
From statistics supplied by the Crown Prosecution Service there were 47 rape flagged prosecutions for male defendants, and one rape flagged prosecution for a female defendant in the year 2012/13 in the region of Cleveland.
Of these, 29 ended with convictions. In 2013/14 there were 58 prosecutions, 31 of which ended in a conviction. In the year 2014/15 there were 48 prosecutions, with 23 ending in a conviction.
A spokeswoman from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s communication unit highlighted the introduction of Domestic Violence Protection Notices in August 2014, which enable better protection for victims of domestic abuse, and the introduction of Clare’s Law.
She said: “The scheme to allow people to find out from police if their partner has a history of domestic abuse was brought in in March last year to protect any vulnerable people from abuse and again this has proved a valuable aid in protecting women from either physical or mental attack.”
The initiative is named after Clare Wood who was murdered in 2009 by her ex-boyfriend, who had a history of domestic violence.
She added: “This year we have set up workforce champions in a variety of organisations in the hope that along with the support services already available – there will be someone within a person’s own workplace environment – regardless of whether the victim is male or female – who will be available for them to confide in.”
The result has been that an increasing number of victims feel more confident in reporting their attacks, with more systems in place to support them through the traumatic aftermath.
An increasingly public discussion about the frequency of sexual assaults and domestic abuse targeting both men and women has contributed to the rise in rapes being reported, as people become more confident in reporting their abusers and coming forward for help and support.
The Police and Crime Commissioner highlighted this rise in confidence saying: “All this additional support is enabling victims of domestic abuse to gain confidence in reporting issues to the police and clearer signposting of support agencies means there are several routes they can access to gain help in reporting such abuse.”
Victims of sexual assault have the added safety of automatic anonymity from the moment the attack is reported, meaning they can rest assured that they can make a report while avoiding the publicity that can sometimes follow making a report to police.
A number of groups, including feminist organisations and sexual assault support services have long campaigned for a more open discussion of the impact of rape, and the need for a safer environment in which survivors can feel more confident about coming forward to report their attackers.
These recent statistics suggest that the campaigns are working.
However, the work is not over. Many men and women still suffer in silence, and more needs to be done to ensure not only that victims feel safe enough to speak out, but also to prevent so many sexual assaults occurring in the first place.
Anybody affected by this story can contact a number of services which assist victims of sexual assault:
Arch North East: http://ift.tt/1TdRriz
HOPE Groups: http://ift.tt/21bngI6
Harbour Support Services: www.myharbour.org.uk
The Survivors Trust: http://ift.tt/1Oz25cV