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Rape reports hit record high

The Office for National Statistics have today (27 January 2022) released police recorded data for sexual offences in England and Wales. The latest figures show that:

  • The number of sexual offences recorded by the police showed a 12% increase in the year ending September 2021 (170,973 offences) compared with the same period in the previous year.
  • The number of rape offences in the year ending September 2021 was the highest recorded annual figure to date (63,136 offences).
  • Rape accounted for 37% of all sexual offences recorded by the police.

We know that the vast majority of rapes and sexual assaults never get reported to the police so it is encouraging that more sexual violence and abuse victims and survivors are coming forward to seek support and criminal justice. It is likely these figures reflect a gradual increase in survivors’ willingness to pursue criminal justice rather than an increase in the number of sexual offences being committed. The figures also reflect the growing number of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse who are now coming forward.

At Rape Crisis England & Wales we have seen the rise in reporting to the police has been paralleled by the unprecedented levels of need and demand for our specialist Rape Crisis services in recent years. There are currently 10,000 people on Rape Crisis waiting lists, and this shows that long-term, sustainable funding for specialist sexual violence support and advocacy services like ours is more urgently needed than ever.

We still need to see better responses in both criminal justice and natural justice for survivors of sexual violence and abuse. That includes charge and conviction rates increasing so that women and girls are not going through the difficulty of reporting without a chance of justice, as well as better treatment for women and girls who do report so that they feel informed and supported throughout the process. It also includes access to support for all survivors of sexual violence and abuse, regardless of whether or not they report.

Our joint ‘Decriminalisation of Rape Report’ (November 2020) set out a number of recommendations for the police:

  • Rape investigation and prosecution work should be a clear, named specialism in all forces.
  • Investigations should explicitly return to a clear examination of the seeking as well as the giving of consent.
  • All rape investigations should have the oversight of a senior rape and sexual abuse specialist lead.

We again call for these recommendations to be implemented to improve access to justice for women and girls.

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