Data released by Cambridgeshire police has revealed a 25% increase in reported rapes, with more than 1000 victims contacting the force in four years.
Despite a 68% fall in the number of assaults by sexual penetration between 2009 and 2013, 226 rapes were reported last year, compared with 179 in 2009. The youngest individual to be arrested in connection with the sexual assaults was 10 years old.
Between March 2013 and March 2014 alone, the police force recorded a 23% rise in reported serious sexual offences in the Cambridge City area. Across the 6 separate districts in Cambridgeshire – Cambridge, South Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, Fenland, East Cambridgeshire, Peterborough – there was an 49% average increase in the number of reported sexual assaults in the same period.
The rises come as the Cambridgeshire Constabulary seeks to encourage victims of sexual assault to report their attack and seek the support they need. The force’s ‘Get Closer’ campaign aims at transferring the fear of crime "from the public to the offenders, reminding them at every opportunity that…[we] will not tolerate criminal activity in Cambridgeshire".
Earlier this month, more than half of the University’s colleges held sexual consent workshops, sparked by fears that sexual violence was endemic in the city. A survey ran jointly by the Women’s Campaign and Varsity found that 8.4% of female students had experienced attempted penetration and 4.4% had been seriously sexually assaulted.
A constabulary spokesman, speaking to Cambridge News, said: "The force takes all allegation of rape extremely seriously and has a dedicated Rape Investigation Team, which was launched as part of its new Public Protection Department in April 2012."
"This resulted in an increase in reported rapes as well as a significant increase in the detection rate. The new approach means that specialist officers deal with victims at a very early stage and provide support throughout the judicial process."
"The force also works closely with the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) in Rivergate, Peterborough, which is a dedicated venue providing victims of rape and sexual abuse with medical and sexual health care, counselling and support."
"Officers work closely with the SARC to ensure any offences which are revealed are fully investigated."