The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has released new statistics on the prevalence of rape and sexual violence across England and Wales, showing that:

  • there were 88,106 police recorded sexual offences in the year ending March 2015 in England and Wales, an increase of 37% compared to 2014
  • this is the highest yearly figure recorded by the police
  • the number of offences of rape increased by 41% and the number of sexual offences has increased by 35%

Support After Rape and Sexual Violence Leeds (SARSVL) prepared this statement in response:

Lauren Smith, spokesperson for Support After Rape and Sexual Violence Leeds, said:

“It is deeply concerning to see such a steep increase in the number of incidences of rape and sexual violence this year and that the number of incidences is the highest on record.

“While these figures are alarming, they also may indicate that more women and girls are speaking out about their experiences.

“It is incredibly important that any woman or girl, if they have experienced any kind of sexual violence at any time in their life, feels that support networks are available to help them talk about what has happened. Charities like SARSVL and Rape Crisis provide that crucial support and these statistics show just how important it is, when government cuts are having such drastic impacts, to invest in vital support services like SARSVL.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary’s (HMIC) inspection of crime reporting, carried out from December 2013 to August 2014, has also shockingly shown us that an estimated one in four sexual offences that should have been recorded as crimes were not. It has illustrated that some police forces have poor processes for crime recording and that some reported incidences of rape and sexual violence simply do not make it onto crime recording systems.

“This is, frankly, not good enough. Although police forces have taken steps to improve their reporting systems and processes, it is vital that every report of rape or sexual violence is taken seriously. At SARSVL, we will listen to a woman or girl and we will always believe her.

“Rape and sexual violence is a devastating crime, with a range of long-term – including lifelong – impacts on survivors. These statistics continue to show us just how prevalent rape and sexual violence is, how important it is to continue speak out about the impact of these crimes, and the importance of support services.”

Women and girls in Leeds who have been affected by sexual violence at any time in their lives can access support from Support After Rape and Sexual Violence Leeds. Freephone helpline: 0808 802 3344.