Recorded rapes at highest level for years

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The Independent Online

The number of rapes recorded by police in London is at its highest level for several years, the head of Scotland Yard said today.

Sir Paul Stephenson said he was concerned that the number of sex attacks had increased by almost a quarter year-on-year.



He said it was not clear if a surge in offences or an increase in the confidence of victims to go to police was behind the disturbing figures.



There were 277 rapes recorded in the capital in October, an increase of almost 70% on the 164 recorded in the same month last year.



Speaking at City Hall today, Sir Paul said the high public profile of the "heinous" offence may have boosted figures.



He said: "Recorded rape is at its highest level for many years. For the year to September we have seen a significant rise, some 24 per cent, of offences of recorded rape.



"As usual, in terms of this particular offence, there are positives and negatives.



"The rise, we think, is partly due to the increased number of victims coming forward to report what is traditionally an under-reported crime.



"Externally, there has been significant media attention on the issue, high-profile trials, IPCC investigations and a Government review by Baroness Stern.



"I guess they are all contributing towards raising public awareness."



The Metropolitan Police recently reorganised its response to rape and serious sexual offences, bringing borough teams under a central umbrella.



The move came in the wake of harsh criticism of the force for failing victims of sex stalker Kirk Reid and pervert cab driver John Worboys.



Reports by officials at the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) are expected to highlight a string of blunders and missed opportunities.



A report published yesterday said some police wrongly treat rape allegations with scepticism because of "poor attitudes" towards particular types of victims.



The Government's "victim's champion" Sara Payne said women who had been drinking or came from "a certain area" were not always taken seriously.



Sir Paul added: "These are heinous offences and we have got to understand whether it is down to increased reporting, and maybe, an increased problem."