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Fears that pandemic silenced sexual violence victims

Fears that pandemic silenced sexual violence victims

Tuesday 15 February 2022

Fears that pandemic silenced sexual violence victims

Tuesday 15 February 2022


The Chief of Police is urging islanders to report instances of sexual violence amid concerns that victims isolating with their abusers at home during the pandemic may have led to a sharp drop in reports.

Robin Smith’s message comes as the Police mark Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week.

In a statement released to mark the beginning of the week, the Force said officers were aware sexual abuse and sexual violence have been under-reported for some time.

They noted that the reasons for not reporting such abuse include “fear of reprisal, not wanting friends or family to find out, fear they won’t be believed or not wanting their abusers to be punished are a few of the reasons why some people may not report abuse”.

Statistics show that the numbers of sexual offences, including indecent images of children, recorded in Jersey over the last five years has dropped slightly from a total of 191 in 2017 to 167 in 2021. 

The numbers slowly climbed to 195 in 2018 and 206 in 2019, but fell significantly to 134 in 2020.

“Factoring in the pandemic and the knowledge that many people were isolated at home, often with their abuser, we are certain that the problem didn’t simply disappear and that many incidents in 2020 would have simply not been reported to police,” the police said.

“It can be a challenge to bring some of these offenders before the courts; but a challenge the police are committed to facing head-on. Figures show there were 1149 recorded incidents of domestic abuse in 2021, with 239 people arrested and 83 people charged with an offence.”

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Pictured: The Chief of Police, Robin Smith.

“We want to reassure those people who have suffered sexual abuse or violence, who may have doubts about coming forward that my officers and staff will support you in reporting these crimes,” the Chief of Police said.  

“We take all reports seriously, no matter how long ago the abuse happened. We want to ensure the voice of victims is heard, and know that you will be believed. 

“This week is about taking a stand against this type of abusive behaviour and saying it’s not OK. Our Justice system will only work when it delivers justice to both the victim and the offender. We are here to help.”

The local force has specially trained officers and a dedicated department for sexual abuse and violence. If victims do not feel comfortable coming to a police station, officers are able to come to wherever they feel comfortable. 

The Public Protection Unit deals with many types of sexually motivated crimes and they work alongside key partners who offer support and guidance to all victims.  

There are several agencies that can support victims, including Dewberry House Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC). 

Service Manager Laura Osmand echoed the Police's message, strongly encouraging anyone who has experienced any type of sexual assault, to come forward and seek help. 

“Dewberry House is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for all victims, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, ability or sexual orientation, who have experienced sexual assault, whether recently or in the past,” she added.

“Our Team understand the impact sexual assault can have on the lives of individuals and families. Dewberry House is there for each and every person affected and will work at their pace, with their wishes at the forefront to ensure they receive the best care possible and whatever support may be required."

SUPPORT...

If you have been sexually assaulted or experienced sexual harassment, you can contact:

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