An unexplained “truly shocking” rise in rape cases across Croydon has caused serious concerns among women’s groups.
The percentage increase in rapes, up by a massive 70 per cent compared with last year, is the highest in the whole of London.
Ruth Hall, from Women Against Rape, described the rise as “huge” and said police must urgently explain the increased figures.
The number of reported rapes rose from 83 in 2006/07 to 143 by September this year.
Metropolitan Police figures have shown an increase of just 13.3 per cent for rape.
Miss Hall said: “It is a huge increase in Croydon and we don’t know what is behind it.
“We don’t believe that women have more confidence in the police when there is only a 6 per cent conviction rate and a lot of the time evidence is lost.
“The police need to let the public know as a matter of urgency why there has been such a huge rise, because we do not believe that it is down to women’s confidence.”
Tony Newman, leader of the Croydon Labour party said: “These are truly shocking figures and we have got to look to the police to raise their game in this area.
“I would ask anyone affected by this crime to get in touch with the Family Justice Centre, who are fantastic with working with victims of rape and other serious sexual crimes.”
Yvonne Traynor from the Rape Crisis Centre in Croydon said she believed that the increase was a result of women feeling more confident in the judicial process and an increase in support from
specialist rape units in the Metropolitan Police, such as Sapphire.
The crisis centre, faced with closure due to a lack of funding, will stay open because of an emergency Government award of £74,000.
The centre provides support for women and girls who have been raped or experienced another form of sexual violence.
Miss Traynor said: “It is really difficult to tell why there has been such a huge increase.
“I would like to reassure the public there is not a serial rapist on the loose in Croydon and I would never deter people from going to the police and reporting rape crimes.
“The police need to know who these people are in case they strike again.”
Steve O’Connell, cabinet member for safety and cohesion, said: “I would like to take a deeper look at the figures to find out what the underlying issue here is.
“It is obviously a large rise and I will be looking into the issue to see where the rise has come from.”
A police spokesman said: “Croydon has a dedicated team of Sapphire detectives whose primary role is to respond to all allegations of rape and sexual assault.
“Croydon police treat all allegations of rape and sexual assault seriously.”
• What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below.