Figures which reveal the number of reported sex crimes against children has tripled in Shropshire over the past five years highlight the importance of bringing cases to the attention of police, says a Shropshire law firm.
The figures revealed in the Crime Survey for England and Wales showed sexual offences against children had risen in Shropshire from 73 in 2011/12 to 241 in 2015/16. In Telford & Wrekin the figures rose from 123 to 310 in the same period.
Lawyers at Lanyon Bowdler Solicitors, who deal with a variety of cases of sexual abuse, said the increase in offences in Shropshire was significant but needed to be taken in context.
Karen Clarke, Lanyon Bowdler’s senior legal assistant in the firm’s personal injury claims team, said: “Taken in isolation, these figures look worrying because one might think the number of actual crimes taking place has suddenly shot up.
“However, when you consider the context of victims being very unwilling to report cases in the past, it actually demonstrates an improvement in the way these crimes are reported and recorded.
“Ministry of Justice statistics released in 2013 showed only 15 per cent of victims ever reported sex offences to the police, so if more people are now reporting instances of abuse rather than hiding it, that should be viewed as a positive step forward.”
Karen said the figures showed the importance of victims reporting sexual abuse - not only to bring the perpetrator to justice, but to enable the victim to claim their legal right to compensation.
And she said it did not matter how long ago the crime itself may have taken place.
“I have acted for many victims of sexual abuse and was pleased to see a recent High Court case in which £280,000 was awarded to a 28-year-old who had suffered systematic sexual abuse during her teenage years at the hands of her karate teacher over a four-year period,” Karen added.
“The victim developed post traumatic stress disorder together with depression and, whilst she had undergone treatment which had helped, the medical evidence advised she would be prone to suffer recurrences of depression for the rest of her life.
“These figures and this case highlights the necessity to report incidents of sexual abuse to the police, regardless of how much time has passed since.
“It is a sad fact that often abuse and rape happens to a victim when they are not able to recognise they are being abused.
“This is why many abuse claims are not brought before the court until many years after the actual abuse has taken place.
“Of course, no amount of money will ever be able to take away the pain and distress caused to a victim of abuse, but it will hopefully go some way to providing them with a feeling of justice.”
For more information on Lanyon Bowdler Solicitors and the services they offer call 01952 427832.
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