London sees 20% rise in rape reports in a year, but police admit they 'don't understand' reason

Lizzie Dearden
The Metropolitan Police said the rise could not be explained just by increased reporting and recording: Getty

The number of alleged rapes reported to police in London has risen by almost 20 per cent in a disturbing increase police are struggling to explain.

There were 7,613 reported rapes in the year to January, compared to 6,392 over the previous 12 months, according to figures collated by the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC).

Sir Craig Mackey, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said the rise could not be accounted for simply by more victims feeling able to report abuse or better recording practices.

“It is not as simple as saying this is increased confidence,” he told the London Assembly’s police and come committee.

“Of course that plays a part, and faith in the process, but there is something going on with sexual offending in London that we don’t fully understand.

“We see the end of it but we don’t understand the causes.”

Joanne McCartney, the deputy mayor of London, told the meeting on Wednesday that Sir Craig’s statement was “the first time a senior officer has come to this committee and accepted that the increase in sexual violence may not just be about an increase in reporting and confidence”.

Susan Hall, a Conservative assembly member, called for police to measure the outcome of plans in place to combat violence against women and girls in the capital.

“Figures are really going in the wrong direction,” she added.

Scotland Yard has emphasised that the vast majority of rapes are carried out by attackers known to victims but the statistics emerged following a “stranger rape” in Shoreditch.

Nayed Hoque, 20, of Manor Park, has been charged with rape, attempted rape and robbery following an attack on a woman in her mid-20s in the popular nightspot on Saturday.

MOPAC’s figures showed startling rises in several crime types over 2017, which saw 80 people stabbed to death amid concerns about acid attacks and violent robberies in the capital.

Homicide increased by a third to 137 murders, all knife crimes were up more than a quarter to more than 14,500 incidents that saw 2,000 victims under the age of 25 injured.

Personal robbery increased by 40 per cent, theft from the person a third and Islamophobic hate crime by 39 per cent to 1,678 recorded incidents.

Scotland Yard is among the police forces calling for a blanket increase in Government funding to respond to a nationwide rise in recorded crime, 999 calls and pressures generated by the terror threat.

The Government sparked anger by calling on elected Police and Crime Commissioners to take more money from council tax to fill the gap last year, amid warnings that forces were unable to respond to some crimes because of “significant stress” caused by budget cuts.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has committed to generating an extra £110m for the Metropolitan Police over the next year.

City Hall will be funding 23 per cent of the overall police budget for London following a £700m fall in the Government’s general grant.

Scotland Yard plans to merge local policing in 32 boroughs into 12 “basic command units” – a move hoped to save £353m over the next four years.

The force warned its numbers are due to fall to 30,000 by April, while there are now 114 fewer police station front counters and 120 fewer police buildings than in 2010.

Mr Khan said he would generate £49m using a 5.1 per cent council tax increase, as well as using business rates income and savings.