69 rape investigations opened in Derry this year, says PSNI

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PSNI officers investigating serious sexual violence have opened 69 rape investigations in Derry thus far this year, an increase of seven year-on-year.

Nine people have already been charged as a result of the investigations all of which were launched in the current 2018/19 financial year.

The PSNI’s Public Protection Branch confirmed: “From April this year there have been 69 rape investigations commenced by PPB which occurred in the Foyle area.

“This is an increase of seven reports for the same period last year. So far we have nine outcomes which will include charging someone for the offence. As our investigations progress it is hoped that we will have more outcomes.”

PPB was formed in April 2015 under the PSNI’s Crime Operations Department and now carries out the work formerly conducted by the force’s Rape Crime Unit. It is currently led by senior Belfast-based officer Detective Chief Superintendent Paula Hilman.

The PPB said investigating rape and other sexual offences was a complex process.

“Officers within our PPB are committed to rigorously investigating reports of sexual crime and dilligently following all investigative lines of inquiry. However, sexual violence and abuse cases are often very complex and sensitive. Often they have a devastating impact on the victim and in just under half of reports the injured party has decided personally that they do not wish to progress an investigation through the crimnal justice system,” it said.

The branch said it welcomed John Gillen’s declaration, in his ‘Preliminary report into the law and procedures in serious sexual offences in NI’, that, “we want to ensure that victims of sexual offences are treated with dignity and respect on the path to trial and in the court”.

“We recognise the impact an investigation and journey through the Criminal Justice Process can have on a victim and so we are glad to be part of the ‘Gillen Review,’” it stated.

There have been 709 reports of rape in the North since April, the PPB said.