Lincolnshire

Lincoln rape centre 'encourages reports to police'

A centre which helps victims of sex attacks in Lincolnshire is being credited for a 20% rise in reports of such crimes.

Spring Lodge, near Lincoln, was opened in May 2010 with counselling rooms, forensic labs and evidence stores.

Managers said victims were supported by staff, with police involvement left up to the individual.

In the past 12 months it has been used by 138 people and all but two have formally reported the incident.

'Best service'

The centre is funded by the county council, NHS and police.

Senior police officers said the rise in reported rapes did not mean there were more attacks.

Det Insp Sean Baxter said: "The offences are not going up, the offences are always there. It is about people having the confidence to come forward to the police and the authorities.

"We have a multi-agency approach. This was a project we went into with the National Health Service, the local foundation trust to run the service and we have linked up with the voluntary sector.

"It's about everyone pulling together to give the best possible service."

Younger victims

He added: "We have a self-referral facility here where people don't have to be involved with the police at first but still use all the facilities, so they can take their time while they decide whether to formally report it."

Centre manager Amanda Farquhar said: "We are here to make people feel as comfortable as possible and not judged.

"We are here at all times of day, we explain what is happening and support them in their decisions. It is about giving them control."

Police said they were aiming to expand the centre to give more foreign language services and better facilities for the 14 to 18 age group, which make up 25% of users.

Official figures show from January to December 2009 there were 173 reported rapes. For the period January to November 2010 this figure was 216.

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