Recorded adult rapes in Northamptonshire increased by 71 per cent in a one-year period, new stats show.
HM Inspectorate of Constabulary has revealed that recorded adult rapes in the county numbered 169 in 2013/14 but shot up to 289 a year later.
It means Northamptonshire is now third in England and Wales for recorded rapes per capita, with 51 adult rapes per 100,000 people. London and Hampshire are the only police areas with more.
A spokesman for HMIC said that the increase in recorded rapes may mean victims feel more confident in coming forward, not necessarily that more rapes are taking place.
The spokesman said: “Increased publicity associated with high-profile sexual abuse cases, such as Operation Yewtree among others, has encouraged more survivors of sexual abuse to come forward to the police.
“Improved recording of crime by the police, in part prompted by an HMIC inspection among other reviews, will also have had an effect on recorded crime numbers.”
The latest Northamptonshire data shows that the combined number of child and adult rapes recorded in 2014/15 was 427.
Of those, 58 were referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (and 18 were downgraded to ‘no crime’).
A total of 42 people were then prosecuted, resulting in 29 people being found guilty.
Referrals, prosecutions and convictions were all down slightly on the previous year (by 9, 3 and 5 respectively).
Head of Crime, Detective Superintendent Steve Lingley said: “The rise in recorded rape offences in Northamptonshire is recognised by all agencies in the county as a mark of the increased confidence of victims to come forward, including victims of historic sexual offences, so we are not surprised to see an increase.”
There is currently a multi-agency review taking place looking at the nature and scale of sexual offences
in Northamptonshire. The findings, which will be reported next month, will help us engineer an appropriate partnership response.
Det Supt Lingley said: “We have a rape and sexual offences multi-agency strategy and action plan which focuses on prevention, support to victims and bringing offenders to justice.
“We know that two-thirds of victims are willing to tell somebody about their experience but only one-third report to police.
“This needs to improve and we continue to proactively encourage victims to come forward.
“We recognise the impact this has on victims and we are working with the criminal justice system to improve court provision. Support for victims and witnesses is available through a new service called ‘Voice’* which has a specialist helpline providing enhanced support for victims of interpersonal violence, including rape and sexual abuse. “In summary, the rise in recorded rape offences is an encouraging sign, but there is more work to be done and I am confident that in Northamptonshire we have the resources in place to make further improvements to encourage reporting, engage victims to bring offenders to justice while providing them with the ongoing support they need.”