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Reported rape figures on the up since Jimmy Saville case

Mike Cunningham, new chief constable of police

Mike Cunningham, new chief constable of police

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THE number of rape reports in Staffordshire has more than doubled in two years – with police putting it down to high profile cases involving celebrities.

Police figures show across the whole county, 404 victims came forward to report rape and other crimes of a serious sexual nature in 2011/12 - before the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal - while a total of 733 have made complaints this year.

Police say the leap in the figures has been caused by the high profile of celebrity sex offenders such as Jimmy Savile.

That has given more victims the confidence to report crimes, in some cases sexual offences that happened more than 30-years ago.

Police also say that whenever another celebrity is brought before the courts on historic charges – such as publicist Max Clifford, who was jailed for eight years for a string of sexual assaults – there is another surge in reports.

Staffordshire Chief Constable Mike Cunningham said: “There’s good evidence that high profile cases involving celebrities – and particularly convictions – have led to a greater confidence in victims feeling confident to report crimes.”

Staffordshire Police assistant chief constable Nick Baker said: “In response to the increased demand in this area we have increased our resources in public protection and have a high number of response officers trained in gathering evidence in the early stages of reports.

“Policing is a lot more focussed on the victim. In September 2012, there was a full audit into rape and serious sexual offence reports.

“Following the publicity surrounding Jimmy Savile, there was a 69 per cent increase in the number of historical offences being reported.”

Gill Brown, chief executive of homeless charity Brighter Futures – which has come into contact with many women who have been abused in the past – said: “Rape has always been a very under-reported crime. If more people are coming forward to report it, that’s good news.

“Since the Integrated Sexual Health Unit in Cobridge opened, which includes a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), I think that has given people more confidence because there is specialist health care, victim support and counselling.

“I think because of celebrities like Jimmy Savile, people do feel more confident to report rape and sexual offences and feel that they will be believed. I just don’t know if this means the numbers are going up. Hopefully, people just feel happier reporting it.”

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