Revealed: 80 rapes reported in Northern Ireland every month
An average of 80 rapes and over 200 other sexual offences are reported in Northern Ireland every month, shocking figures have revealed.
The PSNI has confirmed that officers received almost 1,000 reports of rapes over the past 12 months - up 18% on figures from the previous year.
According to investigative news website The Detail, 968 rape offences and 2,448 other sexual offences were recorded in the 12 months up to the end of February.
Police also confirmed to The Detail that during January and February of this year there were 20 more referrals of rape and sexual assault than in the same period the previous year.
In total 3,416 sexual offence crimes were recorded from March 2017 to February 2018 - that is up from 3,153 the previous year.
However, the rise still doesn't represent the full picture as not all sexual crimes are reported to police.
The PSNI's crime bulletin also revealed that only 51, or 5%, of rape crimes reported in the past year have been dealt with by a charge or summons compared to 8.6% of those recorded the previous year.
Of the 2,448 other sexual offences reported over the 12 months, just 319 (13%) led to a charge or summons, 20 cases were dealt with by way of a caution, six were disposed of with a "community resolution" and two penalty notices for disorder were issued.
While describing the outcome rate for rape crimes as "disappointing, Detective Superintendent Deirdre Bones from the PSNI's Public Protection Branch pointed out that there are many reasons for this.
These include victims opting not to progress an investigation in some cases or the Public Prosecution Service directing no prosecution as the investigation did not pass the evidential test.
Det Supt Bones said: "The increase in the number of reported rapes demonstrates that people have more confidence to come forward to police and report them.
"This must, however, be considered in the context that rape is an extremely impactive and violent crime and ultimately any rape is one too many.
"The Police Service of Northern Ireland is currently undertaking research with victims to ascertain the reasons why injured parties withdraw from an investigation in order to understand what can be done to encourage them to progress an investigation through the criminal justice system."
She continued: "Anyone can be the victim of sexual crime regardless of age, background, status or gender.
"There is no room in society for tolerance of sexual crime. Our message is very clear: please continue to report."