The number of reported rapes over the Michaelmas period rose steadily over the past six years with students and young people disproportionately victimised, according to figures released by the PSNI.
Last year female students reported that they had been raped in numbers in excess of what would be expected if the number of reported attacks were distributed throughout the population as a whole.
Of 229 rapes reported between September and December 2014, 45 were inflicted on ‘students,’ 39 of whom were women.
Six male students were reportedly raped during the same period.
Micky Quigg, the Magee-based Ulster University Students Union Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs said: “These are very concerning statistics and this is an issue that UUSU takes very seriously; we consistently remind students to watch out for friends their friends, to not walk home alone and to be safe when they’re out and about.
“We’ve been working closely with NUS-USI to raise awareness of consent among the student population and have distributed rape alarms during Freshers. “UUSU will be jointly running a seminar on sexual assault during the UN’s 16 days of activism against gender violence to raise awareness of the issue and will continue to challenge this at every opportunity.”
Therefore, of the 229 people who reported that they were raped during this period last year, 20 per cent were students.
Young people were also victimised disproportionately, according to the figures.
Of the 229 instances of sexual violence reported, 71 were inflicted on young people aged between 16 and 24, some of whom will have been children.
Releasing the information in response to a Freedom of Information request the PSNI also revealed that the number of reported rapes over the Autumn Michaelmas period, rose substantially, from 143 in 2009 to 229 last year.
In fact, the number rose every single year except between 2011 and 2012 when it fell back slightly.
Reported rapes rose from 143 in 2009, to 151 in 2010, to 193 in 2011.
It fell back to 169 in 2010, before rising to 186 in 2013 and up to 229 last year.
The PSNI said that there were 45 crimes for which the victim’s occupation on the system is listed as “student.”
There were 71 crimes for which the victim’s age at the time of the offence was between 16 and 24 (inclusive).
In a statement the force added the proviso: “The occupation information was extracted from occupation status or main occupation of the victim of those crimes and selected when either field was set to or contained the term ‘student’.
“Note however that these details may not be accurate as they can relate to the person’s occupation at the time of creation of their original record on the system and may not have been updated since.
“Note as well that there were 120 records over the period September to December 2014 for which the victim’s occupation details were blank or set to ‘unknown.’”
This suggests the number of student victims may be even higher than stated. The police service made no comment on whether or not the increase over the past six years was due to increased reporting or an increase in instances of rape.