Almost half a million victims are preyed upon every year according to the first joint overview of sexual offending in England and Wales by the Ministry of Justice, Home Office and Office of National Statistics.
The study says there are about 473,000 adult victims of sex crimes every year and, while most involve unwanted touching and indecent exposure, they include 60,000 to 95,000 victims of rape.
The statistical analysis shows that rape and other sexual offences remain under-reported to the police compared with many other crimes. Only 15% of women said they reported the offence to the police. Their reasons for not going to the police included “embarrassing”, “didn’t think the police could do much to help”, “too trivial/not worth reporting”, and “private/family matter”.
The Home Office has produced an action plan to deal with this situation. Part of it contains the advice that if you are a victim of crime, you should contact the police, using the 999 system if appropriate.
What would happen if the 400,000 adult victims of sex crimes every year who have not reported the fact to the police decided to take the government’s advice, and do so?
With 15,000 police jobs gone or going, the so-called ‘back office staff’ made redundant, police stations being closed (leaving rape victims to either try to go through it all on the phone or in a supermarket) and specialist units being scrapped to push experienced detectives back on the beat, prisons due for closure and the probation service to be decimated in favour of the private sector, how do ministers suggest we cope if victims follow their (ministers) advice?
Also, while the business end of government says that only 15% of women are reporting crimes to the police, leaving a gap of 400,000 unreported sex crimes alone, the publicity-spin end is saying that the fact ‘reported crime is down’ shows that we can cut police numbers without compromising public safety.
So which government statement do we believe? The one that estimates 400,000 sexual offences are unreported each year? Or the one which says crime is down? These contradictory statements are not even from different government departments. You couldn’t make this up.