THIS YEAR there has already been 83 reports of rape in Oxford.

That number, released by Thames Valley Police in the latest crime summary for the city, has rocketed by nearly 26 per cent on last year when during the same time period from April until the end of July only 66 reports were made.

Police chiefs and councillors say the statistics are likely fuelled by an increase in the number of people coming forward.

But say 'there is still a lot of work to do' when it comes to getting justice and prosecuting rapists.

In the same period last year, 66 reports of rape were made to police.

The year before, 52 reports had been made.

That's an average rise of 15 reports year on year.

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While there is a clear trend in the rise of reports of rape, the picture is not entirely consistent across the city over a period of 12 months.

In its annual figures, which are updated monthly, Oxford saw a drop of 2.9 per cent in reports of rape.

From August 2018 until July this year there were 199 reports of rape in Oxford, six down from the year before.

However the same statistics reveal that worryingly, non-rape sexual offences were still up by 20.1 per cent.

The deputy police and crime commissioner Matthew Barber, said: "Every incidence of rape is abhorrent and the criminal justice system should be geared up to come down heavily on anyone who commits such offences.

"Often, these figures include a number of historic cases and I am pleased that improved practices by the police and prosecutors is encouraging more victims to come forward."

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Nigel Chapman, an Oxford City councillor who sits on the board for safer communities, also suggested that the increasing number of reports was also a positive because it shows more people were reporting crime – but said there was 'still a lot of work to do'.

He said: “I think it is a good thing that more people are reporting these crimes.

“The number of cases that come to court are tiny, a very small number go further and lead to a prosecution because victims feel scared about giving evident in court.

“We have a lot of work to do to be in a position where more perpetrators are being found guilty.

“There are more reports, but the relationship between people coming forward and reporting the crime and the number of people being sentenced for the crime is very tiny.

“Coming forward and reporting rape is only a quarter of the story really.

“I’m sceptical that the rest of the process in place is working.”

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A Thames Valley Police spokesperson said: “As a force, we remain committed to preventing and detecting rape offences and encourage anyone who may have been a victim of a sexual offence to report it to us, where they will receive specialist support."