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N O RT H U M B R I A Police set-up its Rape Investigation Team one year ago today.

The squad of specialist detectives now probe all allegations of rape in the force area, working to improve the service provided to victims and bring more offenders to justice, with quick and successful prosecutions. And in the last 12 months the team has seen an increase in the number of rapes reported to police compared with the same period last year, which they hope signals an increase in victims' confidence.

Prior to the Rape Investigation Team's formation, reports of rape would be dealt with by the CID teams in the area where the offence happened by the detectives on duty at the time.

TEAMWORK: Insp Tim But now rape victims will quickly find themselves being looked after by specialist officers with experience of dealing with victims of sex attacks and an understanding of the unique and horrific ordeal they are going through.

Det Supt Steve Wade, who oversees the team, said: "Rape is a difficult crime to prosecute because it invariably takes place behind closed doors where there are no witnesses or CCTV evidence and it often comes down to 'he said, she said'.

"But it's our job to make the victims feel as if they have been believed.

"One of our aims is to increase victim confidence."

And Det Insp Tim Miley said that over the last year officers on the team had become more and more experienced at interviewing victims of sex attacks and gathering evidence in the most sensitive and effective way possible. LEADER: Supt "When an allegation of rape is made it comes to the rape team very quickly," he said. "We are solely focussed on the investigation of rapes.

"Before the officer might only deal with one rape victim a month or go several months without meeting one. But we are looking after rape victims everyday now. The standards of our interviews with victims are improving all the time."

The Rape Investigation Team also takes a holistic approach to the investigation of sex crimes bringing together all the right people to not only bring the offender to justice, but also to look after the victim before during and after the prosecution. …