Rise in rape cases brought to Staffordshire Police
MORE than 500 alleged rape victims have come forward to press charges against their attackers in just eight months.
Latest figures released by Staffordshire Police show that alleged 538 victims of rape and serious sexual assault have reported offences since April.
The authority claims the figures show a 36.5 per cent increase in reports from the same time last year, when the number of offences stood at 394.
Officers believe more and more people are finding the courage to report assaults since the launch of the Integrated Sexual Health Unit in Cobridge, which includes a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC).
Superintendent Tim Martin, from the force's Protecting Vulnerable People Department, said: "Bringing to justice offenders who commit rape and serious sexual offences remains a key priority for the force.
"We are absolutely committed to supporting victims and, earlier this year, we saw the launch of our new specialist multi-agency Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), a dedicated centre set up for victims.
"This has had a positive impact and has boosted victims confidence to report incidents."
He added: "The increase in the number of people reporting this type of crime highlights that Staffordshire Police, and our partners, are positively supporting victims through the reporting process.
"We have a dedicated team of officers handling a significant number of very detailed, thorough and sensitive investigations.
"These are ongoing cases which are at various stages in the criminal justice process.
"Investigations of this nature are complex and often involve extensive scientific and forensic work which can take some time to process.
"We will continue to support victims and are determined to continue to bring offenders to justice."
Stafford-based charity Staffordshire Women's Aid, which runs sexual violence service SURVIVE, is also preparing itself for a busy festive period.
Annette Atherton, support services manager at Staffordshire Women's Aid, said there had been a surge in reports of rape and sexual assaults after the revelations surrounding the late Jimmy Savile came to light.
She added: "We have definitely seen a massive increase in reports of sexual abuse and rape since the Jimmy Savile inquiry.
"I would say numbers have almost trebled, as we are seeing a lot more people reporting historical abuse now.
"And we are expecting more reports of domestic violence after the Christmas period because a lot of women leave it until then to report incidents to us.
"They don't want to spoil Christmas for their children and their families, so they put up with it until the new year.
"But they don't have to because we offer refuge accommodation in emergency situations."