Police commissioner admits force must do more to tackle rape in Essex

Essex’s police commissioner has admitted the force is “nowhere near where it needs to be” in tackling rape crime.

Essex Police recorded the highest number of rape offences and the second worst rate of solving those incidents among its group made up of the eight most similar forces.

However, it also recorded the second lowest number of other sexual offences in its most similar group and solved more sexual offences against women in the 12 months to September 2023 compared with the previous year.

The force has seen a drop in the number of rape offences from 2676 to 2265 between the rolling 12-month period between September 2022 and September 2023.

The solve rates went from 2.8 per cent to 3.7 per cent in the same period.

However, in the rolling 12 months up to September 2016 there were 545 offences with 6.2 per cent solving rate.

Roger Hirst the Police Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex said at a scrutiny meeting on December 7 said Essex Police had better outcomes in recording and receiving reports of rapes but added that there has been a rise in the number of rapes over time.

He said: “We get outstanding for crime recording which not all forces do. We think part of the difference among the ‘most similar group’ is we record it better.

“We have undoubtedly seen a rise in rape and serious sexual offences in the county over time.

“We think what we are doing now is starting to have a benefit – over the last 12 months the number of offences has fallen by 16 per cent.”

He said work around dealing with domestic abuse –40 per cent of rape and serious sexual offending takes place in a domestic setting – is having an effect. It is also working through a historic backlog believed to account for a third of the total.

Mr Hirst added: “But we are still nowhere near where we need to be. It is improving but not fast enough.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter