A HUGE rise in reported sexual offences is straining police and diverting attention from solving other crimes.

Brighton and Hove divisional commander Nev Kemp said around 300 rapes per year are now reported in Brighton in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

He said there are not enough officers to deal with cases fast enough and officers are being taken away from investigating other crimes such as burglary and theft.

In an interview with The Argus, he said: “I think if you were to speak to some of the officers they would say they are feeling really stretched.

“However, the force has recognised that and we have got something like 30 transferees coming in.

“But I think that plan is probably only good enough for the next 12 months or so.

“If it keeps increasing in the way that it has done, we are going to need to think again about the resources that we put into it.

“It’s a difficult one because we want more people to report it, but they are very labour intensive cases; there is not a single rape that we get that we don’t investigate.

“We get other crimes that we can say, we are not going to investigate that, but every rape we get reported, we put a lot into.”

It is believed there has been an increase in reporting rather then an actual increase in rapes.

This is believed to have been a response to the Jimmy Savile revelations in 2011.

Many of the freshly reported offences are historical, but the scandal also triggered a shift in police forces’ and public attitudes, leading to greater reporting of current offences as well.

Forces now encourage people to report offences more and record them better, while publicity campaigns have drawn attention to the law around consent.

Mr Kemp said: “The irony is I would not want [the number of reports] to go down as we still know a lot of rapes and serious sexual assaults go unreported, so I would like to see that number go up."

In comparison with the 300 rapes per year at present, in 2010/11 police in Brighton recorded 346 total sexual offences which includes everything from sexual assault to sexual harassment.

Most rapes in Brighton are thought to be linked to the night-time scene, with women often preyed on during or after nights out, often by people they know.

Referring to the increase in reporting of such crimes, he said: “These are really difficult, time-consuming, complex crimes to investigate. We have had to put extra people in to help.

“There has been some extra investment in that area through the precept, which was particularly around sexual offences and child sexual exploitation.

“But otherwise we have just had to realign what people have been doing, so less on some things like acquisitive crime (theft and burglary)."


NIGHTCLUB door staff now regularly intervene to prevent sexual assaults during nights out, Brighton’s police chief has said.

Chief Superintendent Nev Kemp said: “We have door staff catching and apprehending people for sexual assaults for us now.

“They will also step in if they see a woman who is on her own perhaps being pestered.

“That never would have happened before. So I would say Brighton is not less safe, it is probably safer.”

In May last year, The Argus attended a training session for bouncers, run by police, on how to spot vulnerable people and sexual predators, and what to do next.

Police suggested door staff could help by, for example, re-uniting vulnerable people with friends, calling police, contacting family or simply stepping in to check whether a woman knows who she is leaving the club with.

They stressed men were also vulnerable to sexual assault.

Mr Kemp said partygoers in Brighton were also helped by the volunteer-run Safe Space, where people can get medical help and charge their phones, and a security firm patrolling the beach by quad bike.

He added: “The advice I give to my daughters (aged 17 and 18) is that if ever they were out in Brighton, or anywhere, stick with a friend and don’t go off on your own with anybody you don’t know.

“It’s nobody’s fault other than the offender, but what they will do is try and prey on a woman or a girl who is vulnerable because she has had a lot to drink or is on her own.”

Survivors Network, the Rape Crisis Centre for Sussex, provide a range of support services to anyone who has experienced sexual violence, whether they have reported to the police or not. They can be contacted on 01273 203380 www.survivorsnetwork.org.uk.