Rape cases on the rise in Camden

SEX attacks in Camden have more than doubled over the past year according to recent figures from the Met Police.

The statistics, released last week, show that there were 120 rapes reported in the borough over the 12 months leading up to December last year, compared to 53 in the same period in 2009.

The levels of domestic violence have also climbed, with the number of reported incidents in this category rising to 1,092 in 2010 – an increase of 183 incidents from the year before.

But women in the borough have been assured help will be available if they are attacked with the council promising to continue funding services in this area.

Mary Mason, chief executive of Solace Women’s Aid (SWA), a charity that supports women and children affected by sexual and domestic violence, said: “Camden hasn’t cut services. We’ve been able to open a rape crisis service in the borough. So there are services in the borough. But we’ve got to make sure that these are kept.

“At the moment, Camden stands alone in the boroughs we work with by not cutting their services, which we highly commend them for.”

Victims of sexual attacks received further support from Mayor Boris Johnson, when he announced last December that three more rape crisis centres were being launched – including one in north London.

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Dr Marianna Tortella has been contracted by SWA to run this service, which is available to anyone over 14 who lives, works or studies in Enfield, Barnet, Haringey, Camden, Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and Islington. She said that while it was difficult to give a definitive explanation for increases in domestic and sexual violence, there were some suggestions that these types of crime can rise in a recession.

Dr Tortella also argued that the jump in sex and domestic attacks provided evidence for how important it was to maintain women’s services. “The importance of SWA is that it provides an absolutely essential service for women who have experience many forms of violence and abuse,” she said.

“Without the service that SWA provides, these women might not have access to advocacy, benefits or therapeutic support.”

But Det Chief Insp Mark Strugnell said that the spike is more likely to be related to a rise in reporting rates.

He said: “The key point is domestic violence is an under reported crime. Any increase in domestic violence is normally a positive indication the victims are more willing to come to police and have more confidence in the criminal justice system and other support agencies.”