More than two rapes a day are being reported in South Yorkshire – with just one in ten offenders being charged.
New figures from South Yorkshire Police reveal there have been 512 rapes reported in the last seven months, the equivalent of 73 per month.
During the same period, just 66 suspects have been charged or summonsed to court – 11 per cent of recorded offences.
A new report by Chief Constable Stephen Watson warned that while the percentage of offenders being charged has continued to drop as part of a ‘long-term downward trend’, the number of rape offences is predicted to reach 100 per month in the county by March.
The number of other sexual offences reported to the force in the last seven months has been 1,310, with only 147 such crimes – 11 per cent – resolved by someone being taken to court.
The force also received 202 reports of crimes linked to child sexual exploitation, with 33 resulting in charges or summons. Mr Watson said 147 CSE crimes are still under active investigation.
Presenting the report at a meeting of the police commissioner’s Public Accountability Board in Sheffield, deputy chief constable Dawn Copley said the reason for the increases in rapes and sexual offences in the county is not clear.
She said the force is trying to understand whether there has been an increase in offending, an increase in the confidence of victims to come forward or an improvement in the force’s crime recording process.
She said it was ‘difficult to know with absolute certainty’ which of the three issues has contributed most to the rise but it was down to the force to ‘bring offenders to justice’.
Mr Watson said the rate of rape cases that result in conviction is similar to those found in other parts of the UK.
He said: “There is significant attrition from the point at which sexual offences are reported to conviction across the country.
“I don’t think we are an outlier.”
His report said: “South Yorkshire Police continue to encourage victims of rape and sexual offences to report to the police.
“South Yorkshire Police has implemented robust structures to ensure that any report of rape is accurately recorded whether it originates from the victim or someone else.
“These structures maximise the opportunities to safeguard and support individuals, to manage the risk that may be presented to future victims and prosecute offenders.”
A new Sexual Assault Referral Centre opened in Sheffield in April, providing victims with a location to give evidence but also to speak to advisors who are not from the police.
It is hoped this will encourage more victims to come forward for support.