24/01/2008

Rape Statistics Show Dramatic Rise

Both south Belfast and the North West have been shown as the areas where women are most at risk of rape.

Government figures just released have revealed a 50% increase overall in rape cases in Northern Ireland over the past six years.

There were more than 450 reported or attempted rapes in 2007 alone.

But, the highest number of rapes was in the Foyle area where 40 assaults were reported last year, with south Belfast a close second with just one less – at 39 reported incidents.

The figures were revealed by Justice Minister Paul Goggins in response to a parliamentary question from DUP MP Nigel Dodds who described the figures as disturbing.

He said that women must be reassured that they will be supported in any allegation of rape and to see that the crime is severely dealt with in the courts.

Mr Dodds said the figures were "quite disturbing".

"We need to restore confidence in law and order. As a society we need to get back to a point where the community has faith in our justice system," he said.

NIO Minister. Mr Goggins said the government was committed to improving the rates of successful prosecution in rape cases.

"Specialist police units, staffed by highly skilled and trained personnel, are dedicated to enhancing the service to victims of rape and sexual assault," he said.

"Both PSNI and the Public Prosecution Service are seeking to develop models of best investigative practice so that more offences can achieve the threshold for prosecution."

(BMcC)

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