County’s reported rapes are highest

The Northamptonshire Police area has the highest rate of recorded rapes in England and Wales, latest figures from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary have shown.

The statistics, covering the year to March 2013, show there were 34.8 rapes per 100,000 people recorded by the force, the equivalent of 193 actual attacks. The average rate for England and Wales was 22 rapes per hundred thousand people.

In a statement Det Supt Ivan Balhatchet, head of crime investigation, at Northamptonshire Police, said: “Research tells us that rape is an often unreported crime, as few as five per cent of incidents are reported to police.

“We work hard to encourage victims to come forward and the fact that we’ve seen an increase in the number of recorded rape offences can be seen as increased confidence in the way we investigate serious sexual offences.

“Our message to victims is that we will thoroughly investigate all incidents of rape and sexual assault reported to us.

“Northamptonshire Police is always seeking to give victims of serious sexual assault the confidence to report incidents and improve the service it provides them.

“We work closely with a number of organisations that can provide advice and support, whether or not the victim reports an offence.”

Rape charities and women’s rights group says the data, collected by The Rape Monitoring Group, revealed the disparities and attitudes which must be ‘urgently tackled’.

Professor Liz Kelly, chairwoman of the End Violence Against Women coalition, said: “The wide disparities between different areas’ reporting, detection and ‘no crime’ rates may indicate that the culture of scepticism remains in some police forces. This is not a surprise to us. Our member organisations know how deep disbelief and victim-blaming goes in institutions and communities.

“But the police play a critical role enabling rape survivors to access justice, so these disparities and attitudes must be urgently tackled.’’