SOUTH Wales Police say new figures show the public has increasing confidence in coming forward to report sexual offences.
Research by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) shows the force is the third best in Wales and England for successfully detecting adult rapes.
In the 12 months up to March 2013, South Wales Police identify and charge an offender in 30 per cent of the rape cases reported to — the national average is 18 per cent.
Temporary assistant chief constable, Liane James, said: “Crime figures like these can present a complicated picture, but what is pleasing is that South Wales Police is clearly doing well in terms of raising the awareness of victims, to ensure they have confidence in our ability to investigate this type of offence.
“We believe this increase in the number of reported incidents is reflective of an increase in confidence in our ability and that of our partners, to thoroughly investigate and support victims through what is likely to be the most traumatic time in their lives.”
The HMIC figures show the number of reported adult rapes in the South Wales force area increased from 138 to 199 last year — an average of 19 per 100,000 adult population, which is below the national average of 22 per 100,000.
The number of child rapes also increased from 124 to 145 — in a third of these an offender was charged.
Miss James said: “What is most important to South Wales Police is the voice of the victim is heard and also to ensure the most appropriate outcome is achieved.
“We are completely committed to preventing these crimes and will proactively pursue perpetrators of all such offences to ensure that they are brought to justice.”
Among the successful initiatives from South Wales Police was the formation in 2012 of a dedicated sex offences unit based in Morriston — the Sapphire Unit - which covers the whole of Swansea and Neath Port Talbot and brings together expert investigators, along with support from other CID and uniform officers.
The team specialises in investigating allegations of rape and other serious sexual offences, though the biggest single category of crimes is historic allegations, some dating back decades.
Sophie Howe, South Wales Police’s deputy crime commissioner, said the latest figures showed a 38 per cent increase in the number of people reporting sexual offences — a sign that the public felt more confident in coming forward.
She said: "We know that too often, and for a variety of reasons, these crimes go unreported and those responsible therefore go unpunished.
"Ensuring that victims of domestic or sexual violence feel comfortable and confident to report it to us remains of utmost importance and we will continue to work with Welsh Government and partner agencies to do all that we can to raise awareness of the issue and to prevent such instances from occurring in the first place.
"But despite being one of the best performing forces this will remain a priority area for us."
She added: “I personally encourage anyone who has been a victim, or perhaps knows somebody who is suffering in silence to contact police immediately with any information they may have.”
Contact the Sapphire Unit in Morriston on 01792 614350