Rape victims, you will be believed, says PCC

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird.
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird has once again joined forces with a leading charity to reinforce the message to rape victims that they will be believed.

It’s three months since the launch of Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland’s campaign Rape #webelieveyou. The campaign, which received funding from Commissioner Baird’s Community Safety Fund, encourages rape victims to come forward and to know that they will be treated with sensitivity, understanding and, most importantly, they will be believed.

Commissioner Baird wants to remind people of these all important campaign messages and urges victims to continue to seek help either through the police or other organisations like Rape Crisis to get the help they will so desperately need to cope and recover from their ordeal.

She said: “It’s important to me that rape victims have the confidence to come forward to the police or other organisations. In the past, some victims may have found it difficult to seek the help they need for a variety of reasons such as embarrassment, being ashamed or simply thinking they won’t be believed. Here in Northumbria, we have worked hard to address these issues and through campaigns such as Rape #webelieveyou’ we’re encouraging more people to come forward to the police and other support organisations if they are a victim of rape.

“We acknowledge this has and will continue to result in an increase in reported rape incidents for the force, but it’s far more important to me that victims are seeking help than having concerns over figures going up. In fact, a rise in reports shows me that victims do have the confidence and courage to come forward and that they have faith that Northumbria Police will be supportive to them, will fully investigate their case and seek out and deal with those responsible for such horrendous crimes.”

It is a similar situation to the recent report of figures showing a four-fold increase in recorded sex offences against children in the Northumbria Police force area, with Ms Baird commending victims for coming forward and having the courage to seek help.

Ms Baird added: “I want victims to remember above all else they will be believed and there is support ready and waiting to give them every bit of help they need to overcome the ordeal they have been subjected to.”

Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland, which has recently received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, provides an independent and confidential service to women who have experienced rape, sexual assault or any form of sexual violence, giving them access to free confidential support, information and counselling.

Sue Pearce, from Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland, said: “We have experienced more referrals to our helpline, email and counselling service since the launch of this campaign. It is great that more women in the area are aware we exist and choose to come forward for support, safe in the knowledge that we will believe them and explore various support options with them.”

People can contact police on 101, extension 69191. In an emergency, call 999. Rape Crisis can be contacted on 0800 035 2794.