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Number of rapes at highest ever level

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ONS, crime figures, sexual crimes, reported rapesFigures reveal a 29 per cent increase in recorded rapes.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has just recently published its latest crime figures, and while most crime is either static or falling, the numbers for sexual offences have risen dramatically.

Compared with the previous year, sexual offences recorded by the police have risen 21 per cent in the year ending June 2014 to a total of 67,805 throughout England and Wales.

And of those crimes, the number of rape offences have risen even higher, increasing by 29 per cent.

Most of the other categories of victim-based crime had decreased.

This could be cause for concern if crimes against women and girls are not seen to be punished harshly enough for the threat of such a punishment to act as a deterrent.

A highly critical report was released in May this year by HM Inspectorate of the Constabulary (HMIC) on the recording of crime by police forces across the country, and this increase in cases of rape could well be partially due to improved compliance with national reporting standards.

Public interest in and support of victims of crimes identified by the police’s Operation Yewtree project has also probably led to a further increase, with survivors being more willing to come forward and report sexual offences.

Previous data releases had shown that historical sexual offences were the largest contributor to the increase in reported sexual offences.

However, with this particular release, the ONS said that current, rather than historic, offences account for the majority of the increase in sexual offences.

The context of these increases in sexual offences is cause for concern, with women’s and equalities groups expressing disappointment in the recent high profile sentencing of two male athletes for their crimes against women.

Women’s Aid highlighted the short custodial sentence paralympic athlete Oscor Pistorius received for killing his girlfriend, and Rape Crisis England and Wales calls for ‘official statements condemning rape, sexual violence and violence against women and girls in the strongest terms’ from football clubs after the woman raped by Ched Evans was subjected to online abuse.

Unfortunately, even if the increase in reported cases of rape and other sexual offences is largely down to increased willingness by survivors to report attacks, far too many women still do not feel that there is the necessary support in place to do so.

And there is still always more to do to make the world a safer, more secure place for women and girls.

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