Doubling of rape figures

Paul Maynard

Paul Maynard

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THE number of reported rapes on the Fylde coast has almost doubled in the last three years.

And figures released to The Gazette also highlighted a rise in the number of people found in possession of drugs.

The statistics show there were 66 reports of rape from April 2008 to March 2009, 79 between 2009 and 2010 and 117 last year.

Blackpool had the highest number of reported rapes with 80 in 2010/2011, 28 in Wyre and nine in Fylde boroughs.

Paul Maynard, MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, recently questioned the Home Office on the number of rape and drug offences in his constituency.

He said: “I asked the question of the Home Office to get an accurate picture of how crime has changed over the last three years in the constituency. The rise in rape and drug possession are a cause for concern.

“Of course, crime figures can easily mislead. Sharp rises can be due to the police focusing on new areas to encourage reporting for example – it may be that the reporting of incidents has increased, rather than the number of overall incidents.

“I look forward to hearing from the Constabulary what they feel may explain the increases. However, I do firmly believe that cutting paper work to get bobbies on the beat and having a directly elected police commissioner will enable the force to target the type of crime that seems to be on the increase.”

Police claim the rise shows the public has more faith in officers to report sexual offences.

Det Chief Insp Brian Quinn, of Blackpool Police, said: “Rape is an insidious crime. Lancashire Police will treat it extremely seriously and we will investigate all allegations.

“Rape includes not just offences on the street but offences in relationships. We treat each offence equally seriously. The increases in rape figures are viewed by us as positive in that people are coming to the police because they have confidence in us to report incidents.

“Historically, it’s an offence that has been under reported.

“But in Blackpool we have teams of detectives, who are part of Aquamarine, which have been trained in the investigation of rape.”

The number of people caught in possession of drugs has also risen across Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre. In 2008 to 2009 the figure stood at 756 but has now rocketed to 959 offences.

There were 633 people reported in possession of drugs last year in Blackpool.

Det Chief Insp Quinn said the figures reflected the number of police raids carried out in the area.

He said: “Generally these types of offences come out following police activity.

“We have a long history in being persistent in combating drugs.

“Operation Nimrod drugs raids are an example of our pro-active approach to uncover people who profit from he supply of drugs .

“These figures are indicative of our work – we react on intelligence from our community for which we are very grateful.”