Alarming statistics reveal more than 700 rapes reported to Dorset Police in one year
More than 700 women and girls reported being raped to Dorset Police in the space of just one year, alarming figures show – while seven women and girls were killed in the county over a three year period. The death of Sarah Everard has triggered a public outcry about the safety of women and how offences against them are dealt with.
An analysis of figures from Dorset Police reveals the risks that women face, with murder, rape and abuse contributing to what campaigners describe as a deadly ‘global pandemic’ of violence against women. The most recent official statistics at police force level show that seven women and girls were killed in the area between April 2016 and March 2019.
According to a report from the Femicide Census, a research and campaigning organisation, 18 of those killed in Dorset in the decade to 2018 were females aged over 14, all killed by men. Home Office statistics show that women are disproportionately impacted by sex crimes and are more likely to be victims of stalking, harassment and domestic abuse than men.
A spokeswoman for Rape Crisis called for radical action in the fight to end violence against women and warned that the scope of the problem is much higher than figures suggest. There were 716 rape cases recorded in Dorset in the year to March 2020 involving female victims, as well as 695 reported sexual assaults against women during the same period.
There were also more than 9,000 crimes flagged as domestic abuse in that period – the equivalent of 12 in every 1,000 people being violently or psychologically abused by someone they know.
Dorset officers investigated 2,498 harassment allegations and 421 stalking cases.
Figures for the whole of England and Wales show that at least two-thirds of domestic abuse victims in that period were female. More than 70 per cent of the 2,075 women and girls killed in the decade to March 2020 knew their murderer, compared to almost half of the male murder victims. Women are more likely to be killed in a domestic setting, while men are commonly killed on the streets.
Dorset Police Deputy Chief Constable Scott Chilton and Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said: “Over the last week many people in our communities have understandably felt the need to speak out about their experiences and fears of violence, abuse or harassment in this country. We acknowledge that this is a very real and concerning problem in our own communities in Dorset and we recognise that people are worried. “We would like to reassure everyone that we understand your concerns and we are listening to them.
It is completely unacceptable for women of any age to feel unsafe whether they are at home, on the streets, in school or at work. “This is a problem that directly affects half of our communities and we need to ensure women and all in our communities are safe and feel safe. It is paramount that we as a police service are part of the solution, stand alongside women and girls in our communities and bring about real change that will benefit generations to come.
“Dorset Police remains absolutely committed to protecting everyone from violence and society as a whole must play their part in stopping this. We take reports of violence, harassment and assault very seriously.” We will investigate these reports and do everything we can, working with partners across the criminal justice system, to bring offenders to justice. We will continue to work with those people affected to better understand the impact on them and how we can improve our response.”
“As always, we encourage anyone who has been the victim of rape, sexual assault, abuse or harassment to have the confidence to report it to us. We are here for you.” Domestic abuse has increased during the coronavirus lockdowns but a Rape Crisis spokeswoman said: “Violence against women and girls is a global pandemic that long pre-exists Covid-19.
In this country alone, it severely and negatively impacts millions of lives, communities and society as a whole – and it is deadly.
“The vast majority of it is never reported to the police and when it is, it rarely ends in criminal justice being served.”
She called on society to come together to “end the narrative that tells women they are responsible for preventing male violence and instead tell perpetrators and potential perpetrators that we will not tolerate violence against women and girls any longer.”
Surveys suggest that women and girls are also regularly harassed in public, with a recent YouGov poll for UN Women finding that at least seven out of 10 in the UK had experienced sexual harassment on the street.
Official statistics do not reflect the scale of this specific issue but do show that Dorset officers investigated 2,498 harassment allegations and 421 stalking cases.
The most recent Crime Survey for England and Wales found that almost one in five women had been stalked, compared to fewer than one in 10 men. Home Secretary Priti Patel urged people to share their views with the Government after thousands shared their experiences of violence and abuse following the death of Sarah Everard.
She said: “So many of you have bravely shared your own experiences of harassment, abuse and violence online over recent days, so today I am re-opening our nationwide call for views on tackling violence against women and girls.
The government is listening.
“Everyone should be free to walk our streets without the slightest fear.
With Sarah and her family in my thoughts and prayers, I will continue to do all I can in my role as Home Secretary to protect women and girls.”
Views can be submitted by visiting www.gov.uk/government/consultations/violence-against-women-and-girls-vawg-call-for-evidence