CHESHIRE Police has welcomed rape offence figures that they believe indicate victims feel more confident to report allegations to officers.
Statistics, covering March 2012 to March 2013, released by Her Majesty′s Inspectorate of Constabularies (HMIC) and the Rape Monitoring Group show an increase in the number of adult rape offences and child rape offences across the county.
Assistant Chief Constable Ruth Purdie said: "Cheshire Police welcomes the publication of this data.
"We are committed to working with our partner agencies to support victims of rape and bring offenders to justice.
"We encourage anyone who has been a victim of rape to come forward with the assurance that we will take their report seriously and investigate it rigorously."
Detective chief inspector Nigel Wenham of the Strategic Public Protection Unit (SPPU) added: "Cheshire Police has a dedicated rape unit, which is made up of trained detectives who respond to and deal with all reported rapes.
“The unit works alongside a team of co-located specialist Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lawyers to develop strategies around cases and secure prosecutions.
"Cheshire Police works closely with St Mary′s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) and the Rape and Serious Sexual Assault Support Service (RASASC) to ensure victims of rape receive the support they need during this traumatic time.
"St Mary′s are nationally recognised for their work with rape victims and provide the forensic examination service for the Constabulary. Victims who come forward are also supported by specialist support workers, Independent Sexual Violence Advocates (ISVA), a service delivered in Cheshire through RASASC.
"Victims can also self-refer to RASASC for advice and support without contacting the police and reporting a crime. The views and wishes of the victim are respected at all times."
The HMIC figures showed that the detection rate in Cheshire was 14 per cent for adult rape and 22 per cent for child rape – below the national average.
Offences are classed as ‘detected′ when a suspect is charged or summonsed to court.
Cheshire Constabulary contend more recent data, for the period of December 1 2012 to November 30 2013 shows that Cheshire Police officers have achieved a higher than average detection rate compared to other similar police forces.
The numbers also show that for both adult and child rape, Cheshire had a recorded crime rate that is in line with the average for England and Wales.
Recorded crime rates are calculated as the number of offences committed against adults/children recorded by the police, divided by the population of adults/children.
Following some reported rapes, information comes to light which indicates that no crime has taken place.
The constabulary adds that Cheshire Police have rigorous systems in place to ensure that all decisions to reclassify or ′no crime′ a reported incident comply with National Crime Recording Standards. The data showed that Cheshire is in line with the national average for instances such as this.
To report a rape or sexual assault, contact Cheshire Police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.
For more information on rape, how Cheshire Police prosecutes offences, and details about the support services available, visit the Cheshire Police website: http://www.cheshire.police.uk/