Increase in reported sex crimes

Rape victim Lucy Walsh, 26,  from Leyland who has waived her anonymity to talk about her ordeal
Rape victim Lucy Walsh, 26, from Leyland who has waived her anonymity to talk about her ordeal
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More victims are coming forward to report incidents of sexual abuse in Leyland and South Ribble.

Police in the borough have seen an increase in the number of people speaking out about sex offences, and believe the rise is partly due to the well-publicised Jimmy Savile enquiry.

Leyland police inspector Alison Barff-Lewis said: “We have definitely seen an increase in reporting of sex offences across South Ribble.

“A lot of it is between families or historic cases.

“Sex crimes, which include all types of sexual offences from touching to rape, account for about 10 per cent of crime in the borough.

“Between April 2012 and January 2013, there were 61 reports, and between April 2013 and January 2014, that had risen to 69.

“It may not seem like a significant increase, but if you look at how serious these crimes are, and that risk of threat, it is significant.

“We are putting more resources into public protection, and the more people come forward if something like this happens to them, the more victims we can potentially protect.”

She added that the Jimmy Savile saga has also given the public an increased confidence in reporting sex offences to the police.

One Leyland woman who has spoken publicly about her ordeal after being raped is 26-year-old Lucy Walsh.

Lucy had been out with her brother and his friends in Preston in June, 2011, when she decided to stay out after the rest of the group went home, because she knew some people in the nightclub.

She left at around 4am and walked down Fishergate to get a taxi from the railway station, but was approached by a gang of men and taken to a flat where she was brutally attacked.

She remembers waking up in the dirty flat to find herself pinned to the floor, and over the next two hours, three men took it in turns to attack her.

Lucy, who was 24 at the time and was seriously injured during the attack, was finally thrown out on the street.

She started crawling towards the railway station on her hands and knees, and after being ignored by several people, a passer-by came to her aid and called the police.

The former Wellfield High School student, who now lives in Canada after emigrating because she couldn’t cope with the trauma of staying so close to where the attack happened, said: “I think there are probably a few reasons people don’t go to the police.

“I think one reason is that you worry you won’t be believed – although how anyone could make up such a thing is beyond me.

“I think another is that people feel ashamed and guilty that the rape happened because of something they did.

“I didn’t report the rape myself, I was helped by a member of the public who phoned the police and yes, I was worried I might not be believed and part of me thought the rape was my own fault.”

Any victim of a sexual assault is entitled to lifetime anonymity, meaning their identity cannot be reported in the press in connection with the incident.

However, Lucy has bravely agreed to waive her anonymity in a bid to expose her attackers, as an investigation to net the third man involved in the incident is underway.

Mohammed Ibrahim, now 24, and Rezgar Nouri, 27, have been jailed, but police are still trying to trace the third suspect, Araz Latif Najmaden, 22.

“I would encourage people who have been sexually attacked to speak up,” Lucy added.

“The police team which worked on my case was phenomenal.

“I’m not going to say it’s easy to speak up because it’s not, but I have found it to be the best outcome for me.

“I found a sense of strength by speaking up and believe it can help others in this way too.”

Anyone with details on Araz Latif Najmaden should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.