THE number of rapes reported to North Yorkshire Police has fallen, new figures have shown.

The figures, from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), show North Yorkshire had a lower number of recorded rapes than the national average in 2012/2013, but also a lower “sanction detection” rate – the number of rapes solved by police where an offender is prosecuted.

They also show 106 adult rapes were reported in the 12 months to March 2013, five down on the previous year, and compared with 78 in 2009.

Of the 106 rapes, 16 per cent were solved by police – up on the previous two years, and in line with the national average, but down on 2009, when it was 28 per cent.

The report also looks at the number of “no crime” rates for rape – when a rape is recorded as such, but later declassified by police – which have fallen to seven per cent from ten per cent in 2012, both below the national average.

Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Mason, head of crime, said: “We work hard to deal with all such allegations sensitively and have a network of specifically trained officers and staff who are experienced in dealing with the full range of sexual offending and are able to offer immediate and ongoing support and expertise to victims.

“Their dedicated work includes strategies to prevent and reduce such offending and, statistically, North Yorkshire suffers lower levels of such offending compared to the national average.”

Mr Mason said the introduction of the sexual assault referral centre last year had helped provide a safe environment, away from police stations, for victims to get advice and support, and report crimes if they wish.

Detective Superintendent Heather Pearson, the force’s lead officer for protecting vulnerable people, said earlier reporting of any violent incidents could help prevent rape, as many reported to police that they knew their attacker.

She said: “In a number of cases of reported rape this year, the victim identified a link to the offender prior to the rape occurring, either current partner, previous partner or an acquaintance.

“It is important that at times of increased relationship tensions, that warning signs and behaviour that would be indicative of impending violence are not ignored and I would encourage early reporting to the police of threats and intimidating behaviour, stalking and harassment.

“Early intervention can ensure that victims feel safer quicker and an early and impactive police and partnership response can prevent further offending.”