Sexual offences in St Albans have risen by nearly 50 per cent
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The number of serious sexual offences reported in St Albans has soared by nearly 50 per cent, statistics from the Herts Police show.
Between April 1 and November 19 this year, there were 82 allegations of serious sexual offences made throughout the district - some of which were historic offences.
Statistics from the same period in 2014 show that the police were informed of 56 such offences.
A breakdown of this year’s figures show that 38 of the 82 allegations were classified as rape, attempted rape, or rape of children, compared to 26 during the same period last year.
A Herts Police spokeswoman said that there were several reasons for the increase in the number of serious sexual offences reported. These include the ‘Jimmy Savile effect’, which had prompted people to come forward and report historic offences. Also, there have been improvements in the reporting of and dealing with such incidents, with victims receiving more support than previously.
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The force has launched its Christmas campaign to reduce the number of rapes and serious sexual assaults - dubbed ‘Operation Advisory’ - particularly those relating to the night-time economy and festive party season.
It uses the simple message ‘Sex without consent is rape. We can stop it’ which is based on a blog on consent, written by St Albans born woman Emmeline May, 37, which went viral.
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A new Herts website: www.simpleastea.com features an amusing but hard-hitting viral video based on Emmeline’s blog, alongside practical advice and help about rape and links to support available for victims.
The video cleverly explains this by asking people to imagine, instead of initiating sex, that you are making them a cup of tea.
Detective Chief Inspector Fiona Gaskell, leading this year’s campaign, said: “We want to make sure that people have a clear understanding that preventing rape is not about potential victims having to change their behaviour, such as the way they dress or how much alcohol they drink, but about everyone understanding what constitutes rape. Sex without consent is rape. It is that simple.”
She said that consent was an issue in around 80 per cent of current rape investigations.
Having sex with someone without their clear consent could result in a rape conviction and a minimum prison sentence of five years, and being placed on the Sex Offenders Register.
• In the run-up to Christmas, local policing teams will be running special patrols in town centres and at nightclub locations to get the message directly to revellers.This involves speaking to taxi companies, licensees and door staff to raise awareness about looking out for and taking care of people who may be vulnerable because they have had too much to drink
• Officers will be handing out branded lip balms, to remind people to take care
• If you have been the victim of rape or sexual assault, you can report it to the police on 101 and be confident that you will be treated with respect and sympathy. Or call the Sexual Assault Referral Centre on (freephone) 0808 178 4448. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Herts Sunflower website section on sexual assaults. Alternatively, for support and advice visit www.hertsrapecrisis.org.uk