Norfolk police to launch crackdown on serious sexual offences

Police chiefs have made solving serious sex crimes a priority after a sharp rise in the number of reported cases.

Over the last year the number of serious sexual offences reported has shown an increase of 145 – an increase of 27pc.

A meeting of Norfolk Police Authority heard yesterday that analysis suggests the increase in reporting represents improving confidence in terms of the victims of this under-reported crime rather than a rise in the number of crimes being committed.

But while the increased reporting of offences is being welcomed, police chiefs in Norfolk want to see detection rates for the offence increase over the coming year.

Figures show that the detection rate for serious sexual offences achieved in 2011/12 was 27.3pc – 10.7pc below the performance target set by the force of 38pc.

The actual number of serious sexual crimes detected showed an increase; 186 crimes being detected in 2011/12 compared to 182 in 2010/11, but still the force wants to improve its performance in this area. Norfolk police will prioritise the detection of serious sexual offences over the coming year and is currently working on updating a serious sexual action plan aimed at helping to increase detection rates.

Speaking at the annual general meeting of the Norfolk Police Authority, Phil Gormley, chief constable, left, said: 'We want to have a very hard look at it.

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'We need to understand what's going on. What we're seeing through the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), third party reporting and an increased confidence in victims seeking to report.

'We're getting people coming forward and reporting offences that are years old.'

Mr Gormley said he was pleased to see rise in reporting and did not want to discourage people from reporting serious sexual offences.

He also said officers would be meeting with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to ensure police and prosecutors are as 'joined up as we can be' in terms of dealing with these cases.

Yesterday's police authority meeting, held at police headquarters in Wymondham, saw Stephen Bett re-elected as chairman and Robin Chapman re-elected as vice- chairman.

Have you got a crime story? Call Peter Walsh on 01603 772436.