Police launch scheme to reduce sexual violence
A three year scheme aimed at reducing sexual violence has started in County Durham and Darlington.
Durham Police have one of the highest conviction rates in the country for sexual violence, and have teamed up with community groups on this project.
They will be alerting offenders to the consequences of their actions as well as encouraging victims to come forward.
A police spokesperson said: "Sexual violence blights society, and it will not be tolerated."
'Suffer in silence'
Det Ch Insp Traci McNally, who works within the safeguarding division at Durham Police, said: "We estimate there are only about one in 10 cases of sexual violence that ever get reported to the police.
"We want to increase people's confidence in the criminal justice system to enable them to report in the knowledge that they have the appropriate medical and health care support and counselling services to address their needs when they do.
"Sexual violence leaves victims feeling vulnerable and isolated. Our aim is to send out a clear message that offenders will be brought to account for their actions.
She said that police data showed victims of sexual violence were more likely to be assaulted by somebody they knew, and in familiar surroundings.
"For that reason, a lot of our activity over the next three years will be to raise awareness about violence within intimate relationships and educate young people about peer pressure to engage in sexual activity," said Det Ch Insp McNally.
"Sexual violence includes sex assault, rape, child sex abuse and sexual exploitation, but many cases go unreported. Victims suffer in silence for years or only come forward a long time after the abuse."