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Sex Crime Reports Up

VICTIMS are now more likely to report incidences of sexual assault, according to Bendigo police. They have noted a dramatic increase in the number of past cases being reported.
Police at the city's Sexual Offences and Child Abuse unit say they are dealing with more than 300 investigations each year - some prompted by victims coming forward to report details of sexual assaults that happened up to 40 years ago.
From offering advice to victims and referral to counselling services, to laying charges against sexual offenders, a team of specialised police are working to support those affected by sexual assault. The Bendigo unit's Senior Constable Andrew Cornford said there had been a dramatic increase in the number of historical sexual offences reported, indicating victims felt more comfortable in talking to police. He encouraged victims of sexual assault to contact police, even if it was purely for advice rather than making an official statement. "It is most important for their own future wellbeing that they report it, and also for the sake of justice and saving other victims from the offender," he said. In light of recent allegations against police not connected with the Bendigo SOCA unit, Senior Constable Marg Fitzpatrick said it was important the public didn't lose faith in police. "It is not a reflection on the police force as a whole_with more than 10,000 police, these few cases should not impact on the reputation and amount of good work being done," she said.
Sen-Constable Cornford also said recent comments about fear of police and lack of sensitivity when it came to sexual assault were a myth.
Victims of sexual assault are urged to contact the Bendigo Sexual Offences and Child Abuse unit.

AAP (24-7-2004)

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