The number of rapes committed in Northamptonshire has increased by 56 per cent in the last year according to crime figures released today – which also show a drastic rise in violence.
Overall crime across the county has risen by 12 per cent since last year, with nearly 5,000 more incidents logged between 1 April, 2014, and 31 March 2015.
While there has been a 13.8 per cent fall in serious acquisitive crime such as thefts and burglaries, almost half of the additional crimes recorded fall within one category - violence without injury.
There were also 427 rapes reported, up from 274 in 2013/14, and 338 more sexual offences reported.
Assistant Chief Constable Ivan Balhatchet said the rise in the number of rapes recorded may have jumped because victims now have ‘greater confidence’ in reporting such crimes and an increase in the reporting of historical sexual offences.
He added: “Although some of these statistics make for stark reading, it is important to give the context for this sudden rise in violence offences, which reflects the national picture.
“The biggest rise we have seen is for violence offences without injury, whereas the level of most serious violence offences has remained relatively constant.”
Despite the rise in violent crime, Police and Crime Commissioner Adam Simmonds said he is sticking to his pledge to cut violent crimes by 40 per cent.
He said: “My target of reducing violence by 40 per cent over five years stays in place, as I believe it’s achievable.
“Our county remains far too violent and it worries me every single day.
“Northamptonshire cannot continue to have more violence than bigger, inner cities.
“I am not happy with the current levels and more needs to be done not just by the police but our partners and we have plans in place to see that happen.”
However Mr Simmonds said he was encouraged to see ‘a significant reduction in burglary, vehicle crime and robbery’,
Assistant Chief Insp Balhatchet said the overall rise in crime shown by the figures is partly due to the fact the force has implemented ‘vigorous processes’ to ensure crimes are correctly logged.
A new strategy for reducing violence across the county is due to be launched in May.
Assistant Chief Constable Balhatchet added: “We are working with our partners on a three-year strategy to further tackle violent crime, and have consulted with more than 800 members of the public to find out their views on what police and partner agencies should prioritise and how violence should be tackled in Northamptonshire.
“As part of the strategy, we want to get to root cause of the issues which lead people to commit violent offences, in order to stop the offending happening in the first place.”
The total number of crimes recorded in 2014/15 was 45,927, compared with 40,983 for 2013/14 and 47,038 for 2012/13.
In total, violence offences equated to 79 per cent (3,908) of the total increase.
Unison branch secretary for Northamptonshire Police Lyndsay Smith, said reducing the number of violent offences will be tough as long as government funding for the police force dwindles.
She said: “While the government is making cuts to police budgets, this is leading to a reduction in police staff numbers.
“Officers are having to carry out a lot more back office functions.”