The entire criminal justice system must do more to support victims of rape and sexual violence, Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd has said.
Tony was speaking after new research revealed that only a fraction of victims report the crime to the police.
The research, by the Home Office, Ministry of Justice and Office of National Statistics, found that up to 95,000 women and men are raped each year – but an average of just 15,670 incidents were reported to police.
It also found that nearly half a million people were victims of sexual offences – but just 54,000 were reported.
Tony said: “These figures are shocking. They show just how much more needs to be done to ensure that victims of this terrible crime can have the confidence to come forward.
“Rape has a devastating effect on people’s lives and it is so important that victims feel they can access help and support – and have their physical and emotional needs met.
“Thankfully, in Greater Manchester they do have somewhere to go. St Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre an exceptional service to women, men and children who have been victims of rape and sexual violence. Victims are treated with dignity and respect, and support is given to help them rebuild their lives, even if they don’t want to take the difficult step of reporting the crime.
“But these figures are a stark challenge to the entire criminal justice system. Victims have already gone through what is likely to be the worst experience of their lives. The system should not prolong that suffering and at every stage must be focused on the victim.
“As Police and Crime Commissioner I will be a voice for victims. If you have been a victim of rape, I promise to make sure your voice will be heard, that you will be listened to and – most importantly of all – you will be believed.”
Anyone who has been a victim of rape or sexual assault can get specialist help and support from St Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre on 0161 276 6515. The centre provides a comprehensive and coordinated forensic, counselling and medical aftercare service 24/7 to anyone in Greater Manchester who has experienced rape or sexual assault. Victims should also report the crime to police, although it is important to stress that any victim who gets help from St Mary’s is not obliged to report it.