'Shocking and too high': Fears raised after spike in sexual and violent offence figures

A man arrested in Dereham in connection with a sexual offence has been released under investigation.

New data shows sexual and violent offences reported to police in the year to October 2021

Serious concerns have been raised over the number of sexual and violent offences reported across the city after pandemic pressures contributed to a rise. 

Data from the police shows the Mancroft ward had the most offences in Norwich during the 12 months to October 2021 with a total of 1,583 reports.

This is 24pc increase on the figures recorded the previous year for the ward - which saw 1,273 incidents reported - and 1,395 reports received between November 2018 and October 2019.

Thorpe Hamlet comes out second on the list with 652 sexual and violent offences reported in the 12 months to September 2021, while the Catton Grove and Nelson wards had 327 and 201 respectively for that period. 

Ash Haynes, Green Party councillor for the Thorpe Hamlet ward described the figures as "shocking and too high". 

Green city councillor Ash Haynes, who won in Thorpe Hamlet.

Thorpe Hamlet councillor Ash Haynes - Credit: Dan Grimmer

Ms Haynes said: "The potential for extra restrictions on the horizon and financial pressures may well be a factor in the figures not coming down. We have got to do more.

"It does look like there has been an increase in domestic violence due to the impact of lockdown and people being stuck in the house. 

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"Rising costs and financial pressures are also a component of domestic abuse." 

Sexual offences recorded by police can cover a range of crimes including rape, sexual exploitation of children and sexual assault, which all apply to both male and female victims.

Prince of Wales Road, which is in the Thorpe Hamlet ward, has seen an increase in drink spiking at club venues and bars. 

Police on Prince of Wales Road in Norwich.

Police on Prince of Wales Road in Norwich. - Credit: Simon Parkin

The Sue Lambert Trust is a Norfolk charity offering specialist, clinical support to people who have experienced sexual violence and abuse.

Clive Evans, chief executive of the charity, said: “Through our specialist counselling service, we provide a kind, safe and supportive space for people to talk about their traumatic experience of sexual violence or sexual abuse.

"Anyone can self-refer to the Sue Lambert Trust which means we support people whether the sexual abuse took place in recent times, or a long time ago. For some people, it can take years for them to feel ready to talk and seek out support."

Clive Evans, CEO of the Sue Lambert Trust

Clive Evans, CEO of the Sue Lambert Trust, said referrals had increased massively since the pandemic began - Credit: Sue Lambert Trust

To access support, call 01603 622406, email info@suelamberttrust.org  or visit www.suelambertrust.org.

- 'Shocking and saddening to see' 

Mancroft city councillor Martin Schmierer described the figure of 1,583 sexual and violent offences as a "chilling indictment of a system failing to keep people safe".

The Green Party councillor pointed out the numbers are more than five times the national average and requires a multi-agency response.

Mr Schmierer said: "We are led to believe for the most part Norfolk and Norwich are safe places to live and work.

"While in large parts of the county that remains the case, in areas like the city centre of Norwich it is shocking and saddening to see how many offences have been committed over the last 12 months." 

Mancroft ward councillor Martin Schmierer.
Picture: Simon Finlay

Mancroft ward councillor Martin Schmierer. Picture: Simon Finlay - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

The Green Party Mancroft councillors have led calls to make misogyny a hate crime following successful trials by other constabularies in the UK.

Mr Schmierer added: "Ensuring CCTV cameras around Norwich are properly monitored so these offences can be dealt with in as close to real time as possible is something the city council needs to look to invest in."

- 'You never quite recover'

A woman who lives in Norwich and has been a victim of domestic abuse says she still does not feel safe - even years later.  

The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “You never quite recover from being hurt by someone who you’re supposed to be able to trust.  

“Even years on I still find myself looking over my shoulder. I tried to push myself to get back out into ‘normal life’ after it happened, but even to this day I struggle in crowds because I feel like I don’t know who’s around.  

“I don’t know what the solution to this problem is. I wish I’d known about Clare’s Law, which discloses information on domestic violence to those who may be at risk, because I think it might have kept me safer.  

“All I can do is encourage other people who are worried about someone to make the most of it.”