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Less Than One In Six Rape Victims Report Crimes To The Police, New Figures Show

Less Than One In Six Rape Victims Report Crimes To The Police, New Figures Show
3 min read

Only 16% of female victims of rape or sexual assault by penetration report the crimes to the police, according to the latest analysis of sexual offences in England and Wales.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released on Thursday found that over 80% of all victims of a serious sexual assault did not tell the authorities, with a quarter claiming they did not think they would be believed if they did.

According to the analysis there were 773,000 adults aged 16 to 74 years old who were victims of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault for the year ending March 2020, with four times as many female victims.

The grim figures come amid growing calls for tougher action to be taken to tackle violence against women and girls following the death of Sarah Everard, who disappeared near her home in South London, and was later found dead in Kent.

Using data from the annual Crime Survey and Home Office figures on police reported crime, the ONS study found that only 16% of female rape victims report the crimes to the police, compared to 19% of male victims.

Among those who told someone about the abuse, but did not report it to the police, the stats body found that embarassment was given as the most common reason (44%), while 38% believe the police could not help, and 34% believed reporting the crime would be humiliating.

A further 25% stated they did not think they would be believed by police.

Meanwhile, the study found that younger people were less likely to go to the police, with just 10% of 16-19 years olds estimated to have told the authorities compared to 27% of 35-44 year olds.

Almost half (47%) of those who did report the crimes said they did it to prevent it happening to others, while 43% approached the police because they wanted the perpetrators punished.

But while the study found that the police took action in 81% of reported cases, it only led to the perpetrator being arrested in 39% of cases, while just over half (55%) resulted in the case going to court.Commenting on the figures, Helen Ross from the ONS Centre for Crime and Justice, said: "Our latest findings from the crime survey showed a decrease in the prevalence of sexual assault in the year ending March 2020, thought it should be noted that the current estimate is similar to levels seen over much of the last 15 years.

"The drop was driven by reductions in indecent exposure or unwanted sexual touching however there was no change in the prevalence of rape or assault by penetration."

She added: "In the same period the number of sexual offences recorded by the police has fallen slightly, after nearly tripling in recent years.

"The number of offences recorded by the police remains well below the number of victims estimated by the survey, with fewer that one in six victims of rape or assault by penetration reporting the crime to the police."

It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled new measures to tackle gender-based violence, including plans to place undercover police officers in nightclubs and doubling the cash available to the Safer Streets fund, which provide improvements to street lighting and CCTV coverage.

But the approach has been widely criticised, including by shadow domestic violence and safeguarding minister Jess Phillips, who said the measures "simply weren't enough".

"I wish it would be enough, but it simply isn't, and I have no idea where the plan has come from," she said earlier this week.

"This seems to me like a very rushed job, where the government were caught out after not having considered this enough and not taking proper advice from experts."

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