The annual number of recorded rapes in Northamptonshire has doubled in the past five years, a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has found.
In the past year, Northamptonshire Police received reports of 371 adult and 173 child rapes. In 2011/12, there were 161 adult and 86 recorded child rapes.
The HMIC figures show there have been 199 rape proseuctions in the county in the past five years and 84 convictions.
The report states the increased publicity associated with high-profile sexual abuse cases, such as Operation Yewtree among, has encouraged more survivors of sexual abuse to come forward to the police.
Northamptonshire Police Detective Superintendent Elliot Foskett said rape had been under-reported in the past, partly due to a lack of confidence in the police and the justice system to deal with it effectively.
He said: “While each reported rape means that there is a victim, this increase is in some ways a positive indication that victims are more willing now, than ever before, to come forward and report to the police.
“We have taken significant steps to encourage the reporting of both recent and non-recent sexual offences. In particular, we have run high profile marketing campaigns to raise awareness of sexual violence and child sexual exploitation, these campaigns, together with the ‘Yewtree effect’ will have had an impact on reported crime.”
Mr Foskett said the force had been investing in the training of officers and staff in dealing with domestic abuse as figures showed that 38 per cent of all recorded rapes involved people in a relationship with each other.
The force is also encouraging ‘third party’ and anonymous reporting of rape and this has increased the reporting of rapes.
Mr Foskett said: “We have improved our crime recording process and enhanced our whole approach to investigating serious offences like rape, which would also account for an increase in the figures.
“We treat every report of rape extremely seriously and our detectives have recently undertaken additional training to help them provide the best support possible to victims.”
“We know we have further work to do to improve how we deal with rape, particularly around outcomes. We are committed to this and to ensuring that we treat every report of rape with sensitivity and professionalism, focusing on the needs of the victim.”
A spokesman for the CPS said the conviction rate for rape cases in Northamptonshire was 56.1 per cent, which is broadly in line with the national average.
The spokesman said: “Our specialist rape and serious sexual offences team works closely with all five police forces in the East Midlands, including Northamptonshire to ensure that allegations of rape are taken seriously and that victims are supported through the prosecution process.
“The statistics are clear - today a rape is more likely to be prosecuted and convicted than ever before.”