An investigation into the reporting of rape crimes across the country has found that Herts police has seen almost 10 per cent fewer cases than the national average.
The report, published today by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, also shows the county receives almost half the number of child rape reports than the average in the UK, but that figure has jumped from 45 in 2009 to 63 in the year to March 2013.
Based on the number of recorded rapes per 100,000 people in the area, the report shows a recording crime rate for adult rapes of 12.3 per cent in that year, compared to 22 per cent nationally. The figures for child rape – of those under 16 – show Herts to have a 28.2 per cent rate compared to the UK average of 59.5.
Herts is also among the highest forces in terms of rape allegations later classed as ‘no crime’ – when additional verifiable information determines no crime has been committed – with a rate of 21 per cent as opposed to an average of 12 per cent across England and Wales.
This could reflect a ‘culture of disbelief’ in the forces, according to the chair of the Inspectorate’s rape monitoring group Dru Sharpling, who said: “Rape is one of the most serious violent crimes and the impact on victims can be devastating.
“It is absolutely crucial that the police and wider criminal justice system have all of the information available to ensure that victims are being believed and the police are following through investigations.”
Herts Police was one of the first forces in the country to set up a unit specifically dedicated to investigating rape and sexual assault, and the first to have a joint unit staffed by police and colleagues from children’s services to investigate sexual offences against children.
Spokesman Olivia Finucane said: “We acknowledge Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary’s report into the recorded number of rape reports in Herts being published in this format for the first time. This information will help the general public to understand the extent of rape offending in their area - and how we are dealing with this.
“Rape is a devastating crime and we take all reports of rape and sexual assault extremely seriously. Our detection rates when we solve a crime are above the national average for both adult and child rapes – which indicates our success solving this type of crime.
“The figures also show reports of adult rape have decreased and reports of child rapes – those under age 16 – have increased. However, figures can never paint a true picture to the extent of the problem.
“We have worked hard to both focus on reduction of crime whilst at the same time encouraging victims of such crimes to report them. We need to reassure victims to come forward, as we will conduct a full and thorough investigation.”
The report investigated police data on the number of adult and child rapes recorded by 43 police forces, and their outcomes. Click here to read the full report.