Increase in reports of 'horrific' crime in Avon and Somerset - but the number of convictions is down

PUBLISHED: 08:00 21 October 2016

The figures have been described as 'encouraging' and 'disappointing'.

The figures have been described as 'encouraging' and 'disappointing'.

Archant

There have been more than 800 reports of rape in Avon and Somerset in the past year - but only 79 resulted in a conviction for the 'horrific crime', new figures have revealed.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) released a report on behalf of the Rape Monitoring Group which shows how all cases are dealt with at each stage of the criminal justice process for each constabulary.

In Avon and Somerset Constabulary’s force area, the past year has seen a 48 per cent increase in the number of rapes which were reported to officers.

It revealed there were 828 cases of rape reported in 2015/2016, compared to 558 in 2014/2015. There were a further 314 recorded incidents of rape of a child in 2015/16, compared to 197 recorded for 2014/15.

Avon and Somerset Chief Inspector Marie Wright said: “We’re encouraged by the increase in reporting of sexual offences over the past 12 months which we believe shows victims have a greater level of confidence in us and our ability to investigate these horrific crimes and bring offenders to justice.

“This increase does present challenges in terms of demand, but robust resourcing and training plans are in place to ensure our investigators and staff feel more equipped to help and support victims.”

However, there has been a significant drop in the number of convictions.

Only 79 people were convicted of adult rape in the past year.

The Chief Inspector added: “A decrease in the number of cases resulting in a charge or summons is disappointing, but we’re working hard with our colleagues in the Crown Prosecution Service to improve on this and to ensure our investigations are as comprehensive as they can be.

“Our victim-focused approach means providing a positive outcome for victims is always a priority and in some cases, a prosecution and appearance in court is not in the best interests of the victim.

“We’ll continue to work hard to assist victims throughout the criminal justice process and the expertise and vital support of The Bridge Sexual Assault Referral Centre and the Independent Sexual Violence Advisor service are invaluable.”

A spokesman for Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support (SARSAS) said: “We have also reported increased numbers of survivors seeking support.

“We are encouraged that more people feel able to contact support services about what has happened to them rather than feeling in fear of speaking up and remaining alone.

“SARSAS does not persuade survivors to report to the police. It is essential that survivors have a choice about this.”

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