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High profile cases lead to rise in reported sex crimes
10:00am Wednesday 16th October 2013 in News
REPORTS of sexual offences have risen sharply in Oxfordshire with the increase attributed to high profile cases including the Bullfinch trial and Jimmy Savile scandal.
Thames Valley Police recorded a near 50 per cent rise from April to September compared to the same period last year.
The force said the recent high profile cases had led to more people coming forward with historic allegations of abuse.
Recorded sexual offences rose to 353 from April to September, compared to 242 for the same months in 2011 and 244 in 2012. The figure for April to September this year included 77 reports of rape.
In Oxford, reports of all sexual offences went from from 90 in those months for 2011 to 89 in 2012 and 116 this year – a rise of almost a third.
Oxford Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre service manager Natalie Brook said the Savile scandal gave many “confidence to seek support”.
She said: “Because they are being believed it has given them the confidence to report it, that their reports are taken seriously.”
More than 500 people are now thought to have been abused by TV star Savile, who died in 2011.
The rise in recorded sexual offences comes after the Oxford Mail earlier this month reported an 18 per cent increase in calls to the crisis centre service.
Ms Brook said the June conviction of seven members of a city child sex gang following the Bullfinch trial could have also led to an increase in reports.
Oxford City Council domestic and sexual abuse co-ordinator Liz Jones said Savile had impacted on a historically under-reported crime.
She said: “It is positive that people are coming forward.
“I do think the Jimmy Savile case had an impact and has given people the confidence that people will be listened to if they speak about it.
“I think the organisations within the criminal justice system want people to come forward and give a positive experience of the criminal justice system.”
This experience “on the whole” is “very supportive” she said, adding: “I don’t think we are seeing an increase in sexual crime.”
Thames Valley Police spokesman Rhianne Pope said it had been a “challenging year” as a “result of highly publicised incidents and individuals”.
She said: “We have seen an increase in people coming forward to report crimes that happened to them in earlier life and we continue to encourage any victim of crime to come forward. We treat all these allegations with the utmost seriousness and a number of investigations are continuing.”
Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, Anthony Stansfeld, said forces had seen an increase because of “publicity around some high profile incidents”.
He said: “The rise is a good indicator that more victims have confidence in the criminal justice system.”
When asked if the latest statistics supported the case for a sexual referral centre for Oxfordshire he declined to comment on the issue.
From April 2010 to March 2011, some 218 city sexual offences were reported with 173 in 2011-12 and 176 in 2012-13.
These annual figures included 53 reported rapes in 2010-11, 41 in 2011-12 and 51 in 2012-13.
Contact the Oxford Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre on 01865 726 295 or freephone 0800 783 6294.
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