Report reveals rise in recorded sex offences
FIFTY-ONE rapes were reported to the police last year, according to figures in this year’s annual Law Enforcement report.
The number, which is an increase of 11 over 2018, forms part of a total of 137 sexual offences reported during the year, compared to 110 the year before.
In addition to the rape cases, there were 34 indecent assaults against girls aged 17 and over, an increase of nine over last year, and there were 13 indecent assaults on children aged between 14 and 17, up from six last year. There was a fall in the number of such assaults on children under 14, from 14 in 2018 to 11 last year.
But in roughly half – 61 – of the cases the alleged victim did not support action being taken, according to figures in the report.
Action was taken by another agency in six cases, three did not go on to be prosecuted because it was not considered to be in the public interest and a further 24 did not proceed due to ‘evidential difficulties’.
Of the 137 cases, 30 have yet to yield a result.
Head of Law Enforcement Ruari Hardy said that sometimes a report of a particular type of sexual offence could, upon investigation, be found to be a different kind of offence – a sexual assault could be found to have been rape, for example.
But both initial allegation and the final charge would be noted in the records and no connection would made between the two: ‘We live in a very small community and sometimes too much information about specific offences may identify a victim,’ he said.
He hoped there was sufficient confidence in Law Enforcement that people felt able to come forward and report such offences: ‘We have taken steps to improve our response to victims, particularly of sexual offences and some of the more complicated offences.’
A new victim suite away from police headquarters means that victims can be given the support they need and enable the police to secure and preserve evidence in a medical examination suite.
Concerning rape allegations, he said that incidents where an offence is carried out by a complete stranger are extremely rare: ‘Most sexual offences happen in a context where the victim and offender are known to each other,’ said Mr Hardy.