June saw the highest number of sex offences recorded in London in a decade, according to police data.
In June, 2,265 offences were registered by the Metropolitan Police across the capital, followed closely by July with 2,120 offences, and March with 2,116.
July 2018 is the only other month in the past ten years which has seen sex offences numbers surpass the 2,000 mark.
Rape cases also reached a decade high in June as 847 cases were registered across the capital, compared to the previous peak of 843 cases in June 2018.
A Met Police spokesperson said in May that media coverage of Sarah Everard’s murder and the Instagram page ‘Everyone’s Invited’ had encouraged victims to speak out.
They said: “The spike should be seen in a positive light as it shows an increase in public confidence as a result of proactive media to address the high profile publicity at that time.”
But The Survivors Trust’s spokesperson, said: “Reports from our member agencies suggest that the vast majority of survivors that they work with have not reported what has happened to them to the police, and do not wish to do so.
“While we do not have any official data, there is a feeling that fewer people than ever are actually reporting sexual offences.
“Unfortunately this suggests that any increase in reported sexual offending reflects an increase in cases rather than an increased confidence in the criminal justice system.”
Met Police officer Wayne Couzens has pleaded guilty to her kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard.
Following her death, the Instagram page ‘Everyone’s Invited’, which aims to expose rape culture, went viral.
A survey for UN Women UK found that 71% of women said they had been sexually harassed in public spaces.
20% of women and 4% of men have experienced some kind of sexual assault since the age of 16, according to March 2017 data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales.
The Survivors Trust received up to 100 more calls per week in the six-week period following the Sarah Everard case.
She said: “Based on what our callers have told us there seems to have been a few different reasons for this increase. Namely the Ministry of Justice’s #ItStillMatters Campaign and lockdown.
“The Sarah Everard case and surrounding conversation on social media seems to have been particularly triggering for a lot of people.”
The last 12 months have seen a 13.46% rise in sexual offences compared to the 12 month period before July 2020.
The spokesperson added: “Over the last 12 months, we have experienced a rise in the number of calls to our helpline from survivors seeking information or support following sexual abuse, or sexual violence.
“The vast majority of our member agencies across the UK have also reported an increase in calls and referrals over the last year, which is showing no sign of slowing down.”
Data from the Metropolitan Police shows that there were dips in the number of sexual offences recorded in lockdown months. 993 sex offences were registered in April 2020, the lowest since December 2014.
The Survivors Trust said: “It will be a while—probably several years—before we understand the real impact that the lockdown has had on sexual violence and abuse. What we do know is that demand for support from agencies like ours is higher than ever.”
A look at the boroughs
Over the last year, Lambeth saw the highest number of sex offences registered out of all the boroughs, with 1,282 cases from July 2020 to July this year.
Croydon and Westminster were also in the three worst hit boroughs for the 12 month period. Richmond upon Thames registered the lowest number of cases, with 314 offences.
Of the latest sexual offences data, a Met Police representative said: “Reports of rape and sexual offences have steadily increased in recent years.
“We’ve worked hard to meet this demand whilst providing the best possible support to victims who bravely come forward and report to us.
“We saw an overall reduction in both rape and sexual offences in 2020, but this reflects a trend across most crime types as a result of the coronavirus restrictions.
“This doesn’t mean we’ve become complacent. We’re working hard to ensure part of this reduction isn’t actually a case of victims not coming forward – offences of this nature are historically under-reported.
“We want to reassure anyone who needs our help that we are absolutely here for you.”
The Survivors Trust encourages anyone who has been affected by sexual assault or sexual abuse to reach out by calling 08088 010818 any day of the week or emailing [email protected].
Featured image credit: tbz.foto via Flickr