Opinion: We’re investing rise in rape reports

City & East AM Unmesh Desai is concerned that rape figures are still not reflecting the reality.

City & East AM Unmesh Desai is concerned that rape figures are still not reflecting the reality. - Credit: Archant

I recently visited the SKS Swaminarayan Temple in Green Street to join local councillors, Stephen Timms MP and the mayor of Newham to celebrate Diwali.

Hundreds of worshippers were in attendance to mark the start of the Hindu New Year and celebrate the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness and eternal friendship. These themes continue to be highly pertinent messages in today's world of conflict and uncertainty.

The same message of goodwill emanated from Forest Gate-based Minhaj Ul Quran's Qawwali's traditional music fundraiser for the variety of projects they organise worldwide. Stephen Timms and I both spoke about the great work Minhaj was doing to promote the message of peace, anti-extremism and community cohesion across the world.

By the time you read this, I will have attended the annual Remembrance service at City Hall with members of the Royal British Legion, and representatives from the Armed Forces. In Newham, I will also have attended the service at Central Park, where different communities and people of all ages will come together paying their respects.

As part of my work on the Police and Crime Committee, we recently finished investigating the rise in reported rape and sexual offences. It is concerning that the true scale of these crimes is still unknown, as many victims and survivors do not feel comfortable reporting or following through on an allegation.

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During a recent Committee meeting, we held a discussion with the Met and organisations that work with survivors to understand why this is the case, and how the current reporting and investigative systems can be improved to better serve victims and support the police's ability to respond.

It's vitally important that victims feel comfortable in coming forward to the police and can have confidence that their case is being progressed.

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From City Hall, I will continue to monitor the mayor and Met's work in this area and keep the pressure on the government to equip the Met with the adequate resources to address this issue.

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