THE number of rapes reported in Walsall has risen by almost a fifth in the space of a year, according to new figures shared with the Advertiser.
Latest statistics show that West Midlands Police have received 103 reports in the borough since April last year.
It is a more than 18 per cent rise on last year’s figures, when 87 reports were made to police.
Senior officers said the upturn is widely attributed to the Operation Yewtree effect – with people who have suffered sexual abuse in the past taking a stance against their attackers following high-profile cases, such as the Jimmy Savile inquiry.
But Assistant Chief Constable Carl Foulkes believes the rise has also been driven by a West Midlands Police campaign urging victims to speak out and a series of successful convictions against historic sex offenders.
“We saw a big spike in reporting of ‘historic’ offences those dating back more than 12 months towards the tail end of last year and these cases form part of our present-day sex offence statistics,” said ACC Foulkes.
“That has to be seen as a positive because it means we can launch investigations into cases that otherwise would have remained undetected and there are some fantastic examples illustrating how we’ve secured justice for people who were raped many years ago.”
Latest force figures reveal 1,115 people contacted West Midlands Police since last April with allegations of rape – which is up by around a quarter on the same period 12 months ago.
Complaints of rape have also risen in Walsall over the last four years.
In 2011/12, Walsall police received 56 complaints, which rose to 64 in 2012/13.
Police say they are taking measures to support sex crime survivors, with the force’s Operation Sentinel training 2,000 members of front-line staff to recognise signs of abuse.
The West Midlands Police Public Protection Unit (PPU) has also recently doubled in strength, with specialist officers on hand and working around the clock with health groups and independent sexual violence advisors.
ACC Foulkes added: “Victims of rape remain at the heart of this process and maintaining their confidence is crucial if offenders are to be brought to justice.”
Recent convictions following West Midlands Police investigations include Birmingham man Gary Jukes, who was jailed for 17 years for a catalogue of sex abuse, including rape, on children between 1976 and 1997.
And in February, a man who raped a student nurse in Birmingham was jailed for 20 years after West Midlands Police re-opened a case dating back to 1998.
“The national average prison sentence for rapists is just over nine years,” added ACC Foulkes.
“Charging and convicting offenders is an extremely important outcome for survivors – but many, especially those who’ve kept their suffering a secret for years, just want to be listened to and believed by our officers.
“We always take reports of rape seriously and victims needn’t worry offences occurred many years ago because we can still build compelling evidence against offenders.”
West Midlands Police’s Public Protection Unit can be contacted on 101, while the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) can be contacted on 00808 801 0331 and www.napac.org.uk.