Fury over rapes service cut bid as sex crimes rise

Rapes in the Capital have increased but support services are facing huge cuts
Rapes in the Capital have increased but support services are facing huge cuts
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NEW figures which show three sex crimes are reported a day in Edinburgh are being touted as clear evidence of why a vital service threatened with crippling budget cuts is needed.

Rape Crisis Scotland has branded huge funding drops to its Edinburgh support centre “appalling” – after it emerged sex crimes in the city are at worrying levels.

New police figures have revealed that around three crimes of indecency took place in the Capital on average every day last year while the number of rapes soared to 230 – up ten per cent on the previous year.

And while the indecency crime rate of 1044 reported incidents in 2012 is only slightly up on the previous year – the fact it has not fallen has sparked concern with the Police Board admitting they want the “number reducing”.

The shocking statistics emerged as the future of ­Edinburgh Women’s Rape & Sexual Abuse Centre, hangs in the balance with it facing a “devastating” funding cut.

The Edinburgh centre will lose half of its financial income in March when a vital National Lottery fund dries up.

Rape Crisis Scotland (RCS) said victims would find it “difficult to understand” why resources fell in a city with high levels of sexual violence.

Sandy Brindley, national co-ordinator for the RCS, said: “What is clear is that with almost fives rapes every week – and these are only the number reported to police, there are likely to be many more – it’s crucial support services are in place for survivors.

“It is appalling at the time police figures for reported rapes are increasing, the vital services of Edinburgh Women’s Rape & Sexual Abuse Centre are under threat.”

She said the charity’s Edinburgh branch was already working through a nine-month waiting list with services were “desperately needed”. The implications of the Big Lottery funding loss would be “severe”, she said. Caroline Burrell, co-ordinator for the busy Edinburgh centre, described the impact of their slashed budget as “devastating”.

She said: “We are the only service of our kind in Edinburgh, East and Midlothian, and are facing a 50 per cent loss to our annual income due to the end of key funding streams. This potentially translates to a 50 per cent cut in our services for girls, women and trans gender people.”

However police chiefs say fluctuations in rape statistics occur due to an increase in survivors report historical crimes.

Detective Superintendent Alan Crawford, head of Public Protection at Lothian and Borders Police, said: “New sexual offences legislation that came into force in 2010 has widened the definition of rape, and Lothian and Borders Police has been closely involved with national campaigns which have sought to highlight the new legislation, and have encouraged victims to come forward.”

Councillor Iain Whyte, convenor of Lothian and Border Police Board, also said that while the figures for crimes of indecency “sound concerning” – they have to be measured against a historical trend of increased reporting by victims.

Last year, Edinburgh Women’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre in Leopold Place delivered 2334 face-to-face support sessions and recorded 1432.5 hours of helpline support, responding to 2601 calls, an average of 27.5 hours per week.