FEWER people in Tandridge are coming forward to report rapes than in previous years, according to Surrey Police.
In 2011, the force received eight reports – one every six and a half weeks. But in 2010 there were 21 reports – or one every two-and-a-half weeks. To date this year, there have been just three reports.
The drop came to light after the Courier & Observer made a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
Oxted-based Catherine Sonaram-Taylor, who runs Clearing Thoughts Counselling centre which helps victims of sexual abuse, said she was concerned by the drop in reported incidents.
She said: “It does concern me more people aren’t coming forward, but at the same time people need a lot of courage and support to report these sorts of crimes.
“I do think that the number of people suffering from rape has not changed. I think it has stayed the same for the last decade. The police are trying to enable victims to come forward, but the process is long and lengthy.
“Victims can be put off of reporting rape and sexual assault because of the process.
“But equally there are people who want to see their attacker brought to justice. I think there needs to be extra support groups to help victims understand that they are not alone and there are others who have gone through it and come out the other end stronger.”
Detective Inspector Juliet Parker of the Surrey Police Sexual Offences Investigation Team, said: “The number of rapes reported nationally has decreased, which could be due to a number of factors including the way in which crime is recorded. Surrey Police continues to have one of the lowest rates for reports of serious sexual assault per head of population in England and Wales.
“Surrey Police treats all allegations of rape and sexual assault seriously and over recent years we have invested significantly in supporting victims.
“Our specialist staff and officers are trained in obtaining the best evidence from victims and will always treat their welfare as paramount.”
Seven of the 21 rape offences reported locally last year were recorded as “no crime”, meaning any alleged offence was no longer considered as rape.
An allegation of rape made in April by a woman in her 30s following an incident in Jenners Field, off Vicarage Road, Lingfield, is still under investigation.
For confidential advice on issues of sexual assault, call 0845 5196168 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: East Grinstead Courier and Observer.