High profile allegations of abuse by celebrities have triggered a surge in reports of sex offences in Hyndburn to police.
New figures show how the ‘Jimmy Savile effect’ caused the number of ‘historic’ rapes – those reported after 28 days – to double in the borough from eight in 2012 to 16 in 2013. Reports of historic sexual assaults nearly trebled from five to 13 over the same period and sexual activity with a child also doubled from seven in 2011 to 15 in 2013.
Officials and police bosses have credited the publicity and increased reporting of abuse and assault cases for encouraging victims to come forward. Catherine Smith, of Trust House Lancashire which supports victims of rape and sexual abuse from Hyndburn, said: “The high-profile cases in the media are creating a situation where people are more comfortable coming forward. We are certainly seeing that as a service.
“We only opened our doors in June last year and we have seen a spike and increasing numbers continuing to come through.
“We are struggling to meet demand and we know we need to grow our service. The funding has not been readily available but it is becoming increasingly so. Historically, it might have been swept under the carpet or people turned a blind eye, but there is genuine acknowledgement that this has happened on a large scale.”
Figures obtained from Lancashire Police under the Freedom of Information Act reveal how the number of historic rapes reported between 2010 and 2014 totalled 38 against females and 15 against males. There were also 50 reported allegations of sexual activity with a child and 57 sexual assaults against a female.
The data also showed how the number of current or ‘non-historic’ reports of sexual offences also spiked in recent years.
The number of rapes reported to police quadrupled from three in 2012 to 12 in 2013, while sexual assault against a female rose from 11 in 2010 to 18 in 2012. Sexual grooming quadrupled from one in 2010 to four in 2014 and exposure or voyeurism incidents doubled from 10 in 2012 to 20 in 2013.
Hyndburn MP Graham Jones said: “The Savile effect has certainly highlighted this particular type of crime. However there have been cases recently where allegations have been used against innocent people in Hyndburn. It’s the guilty we are after and we have to be careful.”
Clive Grunshaw, Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire, said there has been an increase in reporting ‘across the country’ with many dating back ‘over a long period’.
He said: “This is probably due to the publicity of a number of high profile cases. However whatever the reason we welcome this reporting and urge victims not to stay silent but to come forward with their evidence.”
Lancashire Police said they are committed to preventing and detecting rape and sexual assault offences and have increased the number of officers trained in sex offences investigation.