Nottinghamshire police say the number of calls they receive has increased by two thirds in a year. They say after high profile cases more victims have the confidence to report crimes against them.
Victims of sex crimes say they are often left feeling embarrassment, apprehension and the underlying fear of not being taken seriously.
Mel Bowden is Detective Chief Superintendent for Nottinghamshire Police with 22 years experience. She believes that the rise in people coming forward is due to various factors.
Jimmy Savile and ‘Operation Yewtree’ shined a light on high profile celebrities’ depraved behaviour and saw the biggest reaction with waves of fresh reports coming in, some ranging back years.
“WE’VE GOT SOME FANTASTIC CONVICTION RATES IN NOTTINGHAMSHIRE”
MEL BOWDEN, NOTTINGHAMSHIRE POLICE
She said: “It actually gives the public the confidence to not just report what has happened to them previously, but also what is happening now”
Dan Bebbington is a detective from the operational rape investigation department and is working alongside Det Chief Supt Bowden for a three month pilot.
He said: “At the end of that project what we hope to have is a cohesive plan between partners where we can say ‘there’s an increasing in reporting and it’s good that people are coming forward.'”
He added: “But actually what else can we do to keep people safe? What we’d like to see is vulnerability reduced and people putting themselves in less risky positions but also keeping aware of the consequences of their actions.”
Podcast: Mel Bowden and Dan Bebbington highlight the work they do in prevention
But harassment happens so frequently that there are people that still do not think of reporting it.
Video: Third year student, Alice Scott talks about her assault in a nightclub.
Many victims feel like their assault is not deemed ‘serious enough’ to go down the official route of police action.
There are organisations that you can go to without any initial police intervention.
The Topaz Centre is a SARC (sexual assault referral centre) situated in a housing estate, blending in with all the other houses down the street.
Despite its ordinary external appearance, the work that goes on behind the door is extraordinary.
Deborah Hooton, service manager for the centre, says the centre aims to provide comprehensive support for victims.
“THE IDEA IS WE HAVE A ONE-STOP LOCATION FOR VICTIMS”
DEBORAH HOOTON, SERVICE MANAGER
The centre has worked closely with The University of Nottingham and, in particular, has supported Nottingham Trent University’s campaign titled ‘Consent is Everything’
Audio: Deborah talks about the work done with the local universities
Trent TV, which is the TV station for students at Nottingham Trent University, went around campus to ask students what consent meant to them.
Video: Students speak to Trent TV about what ‘Consent’ means to them.
Attacks are not always the actions of a stranger in the street, but can also occur in relationships and marriages. It is a topic that is being tackled at a very early age.
Equation, an independent charity situated in Carlton, works with school-age children to challenge what a ‘healthy relationship’ is.
The sessions within schools try to strip back all types of perceived expectations and to give young people confidence in the future choices they make.
Anna Clarke, the children and young person’s manager at Equation, said: “We ask young people to really pin down the things that they would want, and what they would identify for themselves as being really important in an intimate relationship.”
Audio: Anna discusses a bit about the work that is done to empower future adults
No matter what the circumstances surrounding the assault however, the biggest fear is ‘not being believed by the police.’
In my own independent research it was 18-24 year olds that have come forward and said that they had been assaulted in some form. Interestingly every single male respondent said they did not go to the police to file an official complaint.
Chief Crown Prosecutor for the East Midlands, Janine Smith, is very eager to reassure victims.
“Every case which comes to us is serious. We work closely with Victim Support and the Witness Service, charities which support victims and witnesses, to do our best to explain what will happen and offer reassurance as to possible outcomes. We will always do everything we can to secure a guilty plea or a conviction.”