Hundreds of rape complaints were recorded by police in Lancashire last year – but just 33 people were convicted of the crime.
Campaigners have welcomed a report published today that shows more people are coming forward to report rapes in the county.
Over the last five years, allegations have soared by 44 per cent. In 2014/15, police logged 624 alleged rapes, including 250 against children aged under 16.
A charity that provides help to victims of crime in Lancashire today welcomed the “encouraging” figures.
The Rape Monitoring Group’s report warned as few as one in six victims of serious sexual assault report it to police but highlighted the role of Operation Yewtree, which targeted high profile offenders, in giving people the confidence to do so.
Lucy Hastings, director at national independent charity Victim Support, which runs a hub in Preston, said: “We support thousands of victims of rape and sexual offences every year, so we hear first-hand how devastating and long lasting an impact a crime like this can have on someone’s life.
“It takes a tremendous amount of courage to speak up after a sexual offence, so it is encouraging that this survey suggests more victims are feeling able to come forward.
“It’s vital that, when they do so, people are believed and offered specialist support for as long as they need.”
Today’s report found just over five per cent of rape complaints in Lancashire end up with a rape conviction, compared to the six per cent national average.
Over the 12-month period, 211 rape cases were referred to the Crown Prosecution Service in Lancashire and 121 people were charged.
CPS figures show 100 people were convicted of an offence following allegations of rape but Ministry of Justice data show just 33 of them were guilty of rape.
The report highlighted the difficulty of investigating many of the historic allegations that have come to light in recent years and said in other cases a “criminal prosecution may not be the outcome that would necessarily have been sought by the survivor”.
It adds: “In a number of cases, the perpetrators have been arrested and prosecuted for other serious offences using evidence provided by the police, negating the requirement for the survivor to give evidence in court.”
A Lancashire Police spokesman said: “We want victims to feel confident that they will be treated with compassion and that we will do everything possible to trace those responsible and take action against them.
“Rape is a traumatic crime and the victim is at the heart of everything that we do.
“Lancashire Constabulary continually strives to improve the way in which it works with these victims and tries to bring the offender to justice.
“This has led to an increase in confidence from victims that we will be able to help them, and we are now finding that more people are willing to come forward and report what has happened.”
Anyone affected by rape, or any other crime, can call Victim Suport on 08 08 16 89 111 or visit www.victimsupport.org.uk