Just last week, key figures from West Sussex-based charity Lifecentre showed it had seen a 40-per-cent rise in the number of people referred to it compared with this time a year ago.
The charity provides counselling to people who have been victims of rape or sexual abuse, with many of the cases involving adult victims never being reported to police.
However, Sussex Police has revealed it has seen a similar increase in reported sex offence cases this year to that experienced by Lifecentre.
So far in 2015, the force has had 2,822 sex offences reported to it, compared with 1,996 at the same point in 2014 and 1,685 at the same point in 2013.
This means the 826 increase from 2014-2015 also represents around a 40-per-cent rise on the previous year’s figure, nearly double the increase from 2013-2014.
There was an increase of 311 experienced from 2013-2014, which works out at a nearly 20-per-cent rise.
Reacting to the figures, detective superintendent Jo Banks said it indicated an increased acceptance from people that being a victim was not something of which to be ashamed.
“I’m encouraged that more victims are getting the confidence to come forward to us or organisations such as the Lifecentre to report what has happened to them,” she said.
“Due to increased focus, people who have been the victim of sexual offences in particular are feeling more empowered and are contacting us or support groups in greater numbers.”
The increase in reporting does not mean that more people are being assaulted, experts have stressed, but is more likely representative of the increased media profile in recent years for the victims of sex abuse. This is likely due, in part, to the public outcry over now-notorious sex offender Jimmy Savile.
“We have seen a rise not just in the reporting of historical crimes but also of recent offences, which suggests victims are becoming more confident that their cases will be considered sensitively and investigated thoroughly,” added Det Supt Banks.
“We are working hard to improve the service and support we give to victims and would encourage anyone who has been the victim of a sexual offence to contact us.”
For more information on Lifecentre visit www.lifecentre.uk.com
For personal helpline support call 0844 847 7879 for people aged 18 and over, or 0808 802 0808 for children under 18.
Alternatively, email [email protected] or text 07717 989022.
To arrange face-to-face counselling or for groups, email [email protected] or call 01243 786349.
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