Rape reports surge a 'picture of horror'

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The Independent Online

A sudden surge in the number of reported rapes is a "picture of horror", the head of Scotland Yard said today.

Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said he was concerned at new figures recording a rise of almost a third (29%) in serious sex attacks.



Metropolitan Police officers recorded 513 more rapes between April 1 last year and the end of January than in the previous 10-month period.



Speaking at a meeting of the Metropolitan Police Authority at City Hall today, Sir Paul said more work was needed to understand the reasons behind the worrying increase.



He said: "Rape remains a challenging area. Compared to the same period last year we have seen an increase in reporting offences of rape of just over 500. That has clearly got to be of concern to us and this authority.



"There are a number of reasons. Some of it is down to improved recording, some of it is down to confidence, some of it is down to some of the cause celebre incidents we have had.



"We have no evidence of an increase in actual offences but we would be stupid and complacent to rule that out and we need to look at it in detail."



Asked about the proportion of the rise, Sir Paul said: "I thought the figures actually painted a picture of horror more than the percentage."



The Metropolitan Police has overhauled its response to serious sex crimes in a bid to catch more attackers and improve the service provided to victims.



Borough sex crime officers, known as Sapphire teams, have been brought under the umbrella of one central unit and money invested in a new intelligence wing.



The force was rocked by a series of blunders thrown into the spotlight by the cases of taxi driver rapist John Worboys and street sex stalker Kirk Reid.



Senior officers are considering the recommendations of an inquiry by the Independent Police Complaints Commission into the Reid case.