Staffordshire Police reveal a third more victims now report sex crimes
DOZENS more rape victims have been coming forward to press charges against their attackers.
A third more people reported rape and serious sexual offences over three months of this year, compared to the same period in 2011.
Staffordshire Police says 226 victims came forward between April and July, compared to 169 over the same three months in 2011, a rise of 57.
The increase comes as concerns were raised about the number of sex offenders brought to justice.
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Staffordshire Police reported a detection rate of just 21 per cent for rape and serious sex crime, well below a target of 31 per cent set by the force.
Officers believe the increased workload is the reason behind the missed target, rather than a reduction in police resources brought about by Government cuts which mean the force now has 1,915 officers, down from a peak of 2,347 in 2006 .
Police say more people than ever before are finding the courage to report serious sexual assaults since the Integrated Sexual Health Unit in Cobridge opened, which includes a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) – a walk-in centre where victims of sex crimes can receive medical care and emotional support.
The force also says a number of cases are awaiting a decision from the Crown Prosecution Service before being brought to court.
Andy Adams, chairman of Staffordshire Police Federation, said: "Because of the SARC, it would appear lots more people are reporting these crimes. People can now tell someone who is not a uniformed police officer what has happened and I think people feel less intimidated by that.
"That rise then causes an increased workload for the detectives.
"A lot of these cases are historical, which are harder to detect, because they happened a long time ago.
"Even dealing with victims is very difficult. They have often been badly affected or even scarred mentally by what has brought them to come forward.
"Then they have the realisation that they might need to face the perpetrator in court.
"They are all complicated cases and every one is different."
Assistant Chief Constable Jane Sawyers, pictured, said: "Bringing to justice offenders who commit rape and serious sexual offences is a key priority for the force.
"The launch of the multi-agency SARC this year has had a positive impact on boosting victims' confidence and reporting.
"Reports this year are up 33 per cent on the same period last year.
"There are a significant number of very detailed, thorough and sensitive investigations ongoing which are at various stages in the justice process.
"These include offences awaiting a prosecution decision from the CPS and other suspects remain on bail while inquires are progressed."
But police authority members have asked whether the low detection rates are linked with fewer resources available within Staffordshire Police.
Assistant Chief Constable Julian Blazeby said it was "too early to say".