Police and Crime Panel raise concerns over fall in solved rate for serious sexual offences

On friday (5th july) I attended a meeting of the Suffolk police and crime panel which I am a member of. Our role is that of scrutiny for the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and we received the initial report from the PCC covering the partial financial year from the commencement of the role in November 2012. The report runs from 1st April 2012 to March 2013 so some of the time the report includes a period covered by his predecessor the Police Authority.

One of the main concerns that myself and other members raised was the reduction in the solved rate for serious sexual offences which had declined by around 1/4 on a reduced number of reported offenses. With the solved rate being only 19.8 % compared to the previous solve rate of 26.7 % we were also concerned that this reduction may put victims of from coming forward with some reports suggesting that between 75% and 95% of rape crimes never being reported to the police. Sexual violence and rape are one of the most under-reported violent crimes with some victims fearing reprisal and the stigma attached.

The panel asked the PCC what has been done to hold the Constabulary to account and improve the detection rates, Also what decisions have been taken by the PCC to ensure that the Constabulary’s solved rate performance improves.

The PCC agreed that the issues around serious sexual offences needed to improve and he has included these as high priorities in his Police and Crime plan. He also spoke of the need for us to be at the cutting edge of technology and how improved forensic technology and techniques will improve the solve rate. We spoke about the reluctance of victims coming forward and how essential partnerships with groups like Suffolk Rape Crisis are. It was also brought up that with a £2m underspend in last years budget perhaps some of this surplus could go towards supporting these vital services.

A little background on Suffolk Rape Crisis A small group of women started Suffolk Rape Crisis in 2010 following the realisation that there was no Rape Crisis provision for the women and girls of Suffolk: the previous Rape Crisis service in Suffolk had closed in 2006.They offer a confidential telephone support and information service and a counselling service. When you contact them they will listen to you; when you feel ready they will help you find ways to explore difficult feelings. They do not make judgments about the women who use our service nor do we tell them what to do. Instead they aim to give women a space to talk about their own issues at their own pace.

Their telephone helpline is run by volunteers who have received extensive specialist training.

Their helpline is open: Tuesday and Thursday evenings 7pm to 9pm.Confidential helpline 0800 0850 520 the office Tel No is 01473 231200 and e-mail enquires@suffolkrapecrisis.org.uk

In the near future they will be extending our service to include self help groups and advocacy

There is also an organization called SurvivorsUK which offers help and support to men who have been sexually violated and raises awareness of their needs,They help anyone affected by male sexual violation this includes both childhood and adult sexual assault/rape their help line is open 7pm-9.30pm Mon & Tue/12pm-2.30pm Thurs 0845 122 1201 or e-mail info@survivorsuk.org

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