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Sussex Police continuing to focus supporting rape and sexual offence victims

News   •   Aug 29, 2019 10:40 BST

Police are continuing to focus efforts on investigating and preventing the sexual and physical abuse of vulnerable people in Sussex, as news comes of the increased reporting of rapes country and county-wide.

A report by the national Rape Monitoring Group shows that the recording of rape in Sussex in line with other forces has increased again.

In the 12 months to 31 March 2018, 1,381 reports were recorded in Sussex, an increase of 325 from the 2016/2017 figure.

An increasing number of officers and staff have been added to the specialist Safeguarding Investigation Units across the county who are dealing with this increase, thanks to additional funding secured by the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Katy Bourne.

This increase in staffing includes the recruitment, training and deployment of 24 Sexual Offence Investigation Trained (SOIT) police officers and staff. This team are dedicated to the contact and care of people aged over 14 who report rape and other serious sexual offences.

Assistant Chief Constable Julia Chapman said: "Sussex, like every other force in the country continues to experience increases in reports of rape, as well as other sexual offences and the abuse of both children and vulnerable adults, as victims become increasingly confident to come forward and report incidents, many of which are non-recent.

"We welcome the publication of this annual data as evidence of the continued focus by all agencies on the issue of rape and other serious sexual offences. The number of reports continues to increase year on year and cases can be very complex, requiring careful and sensitive work with victims and support agencies.

"We already have specialist teams in Sussex Police focused on safeguarding and complex abuse investigations who work closely with victims and our support agency partners. With additional dedicated officers and staff we will be even more effective in protecting victims and working closely with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to maximise our opportunities to prosecute offenders and keep people safe.

"Each case, as with every other type of crime, must reach a required evidential standard to be considered for potential prosecution. Even where prosecution is not possible, reporting enables us to help ensure that the person involved has access to safeguarding and the sources of independent and confidential advice and support that are right for them.

"We also monitor the proportion of rape offences relating to domestic abuse and how many of the reports are non-recent reports for children and adults. We have recognised the link between domestic and sexual violence and the needs of children within that context, whether or not they are specifically victims in their own right. That is why we have developed our current approach to the way we investigate sexual offences that ensures that we take an integrated approach to safeguarding those children and adults who are vulnerable and at risk.”

"Much work is also being undertaken with partners in commissioning services to support victims of sexual violence. Alongside increased training and other operational improvements, we now have a dedicated Detective Inspector embedded with the CPS to work in partnership to improve outcomes for victims, with strong governance and performance scrutiny in partnership with other key criminal justice stakeholders."

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “This report clearly shows that more women, more men and more children are reporting rape which is why I supported investment in more specially trained officers and staff, including the SOIT teams.

"Whilst the increases in Sussex are mirrored in other counties and probably do reflect increasing confidence by victims to report rape, I am deeply disappointed and concerned that the proportion of reports leading to Crown Prosecution Service decisions to charge, has actually fallen.

"Both in Sussex and in my national role as Chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, I will be pushing for a more co-ordinated, whole-systems approach to criminal justice. More than ever, we need all partners to share data so that we can be absolutely transparent and more certain about where the system is failing victims."

"Those who take the brave and often life-changing decision to come forward to police to report rape and sexual assault should, at the very least, expect that every reasonable effort will be made to bring perpetrators to justice.”

If you have been sexually assaulted or know someone who has, you can contact police at any time via 999 in an emergency, or online or by calling 101, and arranging to talk in confidence to specially trained investigators.

See the national Rape Monitoring Group data here 

If you need further help or support, go to:

- the Brighton and Hove Safe in the City website

- the Safe in East Sussex website or phone 01293 600469

- the Survivors' Network website or call the Helpline on 01273 720110

- the Life Centre website or phone 0844 847 7879 (adults) and 0808 802 0808 (under 18s)