According to new findings, reports of sexual assault in London’s bars, pubs, and clubs rose to the highest level in six years in 2021. The new investigative report, obtained by Time Out from the Metropolitan Police, states that 207 allegations of sexual assault were recorded between January 1st and October 31st last year, while 29 reports of rape were made. The rise in reports of sexual assault in the capital comes despite the fact that many venues were closed for six months in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic – or else placed limits on the number of customers.
Although it is unclear whether the increase in sexual assault allegations in London is due to an increase in victims coming forward or more assaults taking place, since 2016, reports of rape and sexual assault have climbed by nearly a fifth. According to the Office for National Statistics, for example, in the year ending June 2021, the number of rape offences was at an all-time high nationwide.
Nick Stripe, head of crime statistics at the ONS, has suggested that the rise in cases may be a response to the increasing number of high-profile campaigns and public figures speaking out about abuse. According to Stipe, the Covid-19 pandemic also had an impact on the numbers of victims coming forward.
Stripe told The Guardian: “Prior to the pandemic, the number of police-recorded sexual offences was well below the number of victims estimated by the Crime Survey for England and Wales, with fewer than one in six victims of rape or assault by penetration reporting the crime to the police.”
The co-founder of Good Night Out – an organisation that seeks to combat sexual assault through staff training – has also noted that victims seem more willing to make reports than they did back in 2020. Bryony Beynon said: “We have had a pause on nightlife for over a year, so people’s thresholds of what they’re willing to put up with may have shifted,” she told Time Out. “Venues have been put under pressure to make sure that COVID stuff is in place, so they could be co-operating more to actually report things.”