Response to HMIC statistics on recorded rape offences
Today (August 29) Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fires & Rescue Services (HMIC) has released statistics in relation to recorded rape offences across England and Wales. The HMIC have published a report for each Force area including figures for Wiltshire.
The report shows that in the 12 months to March 31 2018, Wiltshire Police recorded a total of 609 rapes - an increase from 460 the previous year.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon Angus Macpherson said: "Today's report makes for some very disturbing reading - of the 609 reports of rape in our county, only 61 were referred to the CPS for a charging decision.
"I understand there are several factors for why this figure is so low, including victims not wanting to progress investigations, but it doesn't send the right message to victims of rape or sexual abuse.
"I will be speaking to the Chief Constable about my concerns and asking him to keep me updated on what the Force will be doing to address this issue.
"We know how difficult it very often is for victims of these types of offences to come forward and report incidents to police, so we need to make sure people feel confident that they will be listened to and their crimes fully investigated.
"It's really important that we have a strong working relationship with the Crown Prosecution Service so we can make sure we are doing everything in our power to bring charges against offenders and gain justice for offenders.
"My office also works in partnership with local authorities and NHS England to commission support for victims of crime, including the Swindon and Wiltshire Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) and the Splitz Project.
"Between April and June of this year, 153 people contacted Splitz, and 50 people contacted the SARC, to get specialist support, which is confidential and free at the point of access.
"You can find more information about all the support available here https://www.firstlight.org.uk/swindonwiltshiresarc/ https://www.splitz.org/wiltshire/wiltshire-phoenix-project.html and https://horizon.wiltshire.police.uk/"
Assistant Chief Constable Maggie Blyth, from Wiltshire Police, said: "Wiltshire Police is committed to tackling all sexual violence, particularly against women and girls, as we appreciate this has gone under-reported in the past.
"The increase in reporting, especially amongst young people, is a positive thing and links to a wider understanding of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE). We have seen a similar increase in reports relating to domestic abuse and this sits alongside CSE as something which people are more aware of and therefore more confident in speaking out.
"We do however recognise that our outcome rates are an area of concern. Our focus has already turned to improving our investigations, as well as working with the Crown Prosecution Service, and other agencies, on charging decisions and supporting victims throughout the whole investigative process.
"It is important we continue to listen to and understand victims' and survivors' experiences, as well as appreciating the role we need to play. There are times when we will not be best placed, and it is therefore vital that we work with other agencies to build a rapport.
"It is also worth remembering that both men and women can be a victim of this heinous crime. You may find it difficult to talk to someone about what has happened or make a report, but it is vital you tell someone. Your welfare and safety is our number one priority.
"We want to do all we can to make sure everyone in our county feels confident in reporting crimes and supporting investigations, and it is vital we work together to achieve this.
"Our message is clear; serious sexual assault and violence, in any form, won't be tolerated in Wiltshire and Swindon."
Published at 3.45pm on Thursday 29 August 2019.