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Rape and sexual assault in hospitals has rocketed, LBC investigation finds

11 December 2019, 09:24

An LBC investigation has found a sharp rise in sexual assaults in hospitals
An LBC investigation has found a sharp rise in sexual assaults in hospitals. Picture: PA
Matthew Thompson

By Matthew Thompson

An LBC investigation has found that sexual offences in hospitals across the UK have almost doubled since 2014, whilst rapes have more than tripled.

Sexual offences rose from 667 in 2014 to 1318 last year, according to figures obtained by LBC through a Freedom of Information request.

The statistics also show that rapes have more than tripled, there were 112 in 2014, and by last year that number was 370.

Some of the crimes involved the sexual assault or rape of children.

LBC sent freedom of information requests to every police force in the country, there are 44, and 32 of them responded.

The data doesn't give any more detail on the victims, for example whether they are patients or staff, as that could potentially identify them.

But it corresponds to research from the Royal College of Nurses last year which showed that physical assaults on hospital staff had been increasing since 2014.

Only 15 forces provided us with data on exactly where the crimes took place - and of those over half were in general hospitals, but a significant number (42%) were in psychiatric hospitals or units.

Dr Mona Kamal is a consultant psychiatrist based in London - and has been campaigning for Labour at this election. She told LBC: "It's absolutely appalling that we're not able to keep our patients safe on the wards.

"What this speaks to is the fact that our wards are not adequately staffed.

"We cannot continue with the situation where we are missing tens of thousands of NHS staff from our wards and mental health in particular has been affected."

A Conservative spokesperson said: “Sex crimes are appalling acts and will not be tolerated. A Conservative majority government will put 20,000 more police officers on the streets and introduce tougher sentences for serious violent and sexual offenders to make sure the punishment fits the crime”

LBC asked for a comment from the Liberal Democrats, but did not receive a response.

We don't know from the data alone what is driving the increase. At least part of it could be simply the increased reporting of sexual offences.

Now of course every party has pledged to significantly increase funding to the NHS - some more than others. The Conservatives have promised a 3.1% rise a year, with Labour significantly more at 4.3%. The Liberal Democrats are between the two.

Tories have also pledged to hire more nurses, although their maths has been questioned when it turned out only just over half of their extra 50,000 nurses were actually new.

But based on our data, it's clear that something urgent does need to be done.

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