VICTIMS of sexual assault in Warrington have less than a three per cent chance that reporting their assault will lead to a conviction.

That's according to data obtained by the Warrington Guardian from Cheshire Constabulary.

Between 2020 and 2022, more than 700 reports of sexual assault were made to Cheshire Police.

The figures show that between January 1 2020 and August 31 2022, there were 710 reports of sexual assault in Warrington.

According to the data, just 19 reports have led to a conviction - giving Warrington a conviction rate of just 2.7 per cent.

Of these, 75 per cent of victims were female, with 20 per cent being male, and the remaining victims' genders being unknown or unregistered.

In 2020 there were 228 reports of sexual assault in Warrington, which increased to 263 reports in 2021.

As of the end of August this year, there were 219 reports - which puts this year on track to have the highest number of reported assaults, if the pattern continues.

Speaking to the Warrington Guardian, The Survivors Trust - a charity which supports survivors of sexual assault - said that sexual assault survivors are 'unlikely to see justice.'

Responding to the new figures, the trust said: "These figures come as no surprise, and reflect those seen throughout the country. In the year ending March 2022, the highest-ever number of rapes and sexual offences were recorded.

"Yet both charging and conviction rates for these offences remain among the lowest since records began.

"We know that the vast majority of sexual offences are not reported to the police at all, so these figures really do represent just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the prevalence of sexual abuse in our society."

The trust continued to say that the investigation process can often be intrusive and traumatic for victims of sexual assault, not to mention long-winded.

According to the charity, the police investigation - before any legal action can be taken - can take anywhere from six to 18 months.

Once evidence is gathered, it can then be incredibly disheartening for victims to hear that their case will not be taken to court at the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service, the charity added.

The trust said: "The victim is all-too-frequently made to feel as though they are the ones on trial. They are expected to give evidence and face cross-examination while the defence attempts to undermine their credibility.

"It can be a very lonely and traumatic experience."

Detective Superintendent Myra Ball said: “At Cheshire Constabulary we have an unwavering commitment to victims of sexual offences and we are doing all we can to ensure people are more confident to come forward and report these incidents to us.

“As part of our commitment, we have invested in several innovative tools that will assist our officers with investigations of sexual offences.

“Some of these tools include an online form specifically designed for reporting rape, sexual assault and harassment along with the digital forensic unit that can discreetly attend homes of victims and crime scenes to enable officers to extract data – we also have digital extraction kiosks in police stations across the county.

DSI Ball added: “More recently, we have invested in training for Police Dog April, who is the second sexual crime scene search dog nationally and will assist in evidence recovery and safeguarding victims.

“These tools will assist us in building even stronger evidence to send to the CPS who will, once charges are authorised, bring our cases to the courtroom and work hard to ensure justice is served.”

John Dwyer, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, said: "Delivering justice for victims is a key priority in my Police and Crime Plan and I want survivors to feel confident in reporting what has happened.

“For that to happen, people need to feel they will be supported throughout the criminal justice process. I’ve appointed a Victims’ Champion who feeds back to me on the support victims are offered and any gaps that exist in the system, so we can work to improve them.

"I want people in Warrington to be reassured that we are on track to have the highest number of officers we have ever had since Cheshire’s boundaries were set in the 1970s."

If you have been affected by the issues raised in this piece, you can contact The Survivors Trust at 08088 010 818, or access the Trust's website here.