New figures have revealed a significant drop in the percentage of rape cases and serious sex attacks making it to court in Northamptonshire.
The figures come despite repeated efforts by Northants Police to encourage victims of sex attacks to come forward and report the crime.
In 2010, a total of 198 people in the county were arrested on suspicion of rape, resulting in 67 people, or 34 per cent, being charged.
But in 2011, when a total of 195 people were arrested, just 37 people, or 19 per cent, faced a court hearing.
It is the lowest rate recorded in Northants in the past five years.
A spokesman for Northants Police said: “Every incident of sexual assault is individual with unique circumstances which can make investigating such incidents challenging. Any charging decision is made in conjunction with the Crown Prosecution Service.
“We have seen a big increase in the number of sex offences reported to us since the opening of Serenity in 2010, a dedicated sexual assault referral centre. The increase in reporting can be attributed to an improved confidence in victims to report such incidents.
“Our research shows that many of the sex offences reported to us are increasingly of an historic nature, where the victim has only just reached a point where they feel able to report what happened to them.
“We take all incidents of rape seriously and actively urge anyone who believes they have been raped to come forward and report it to us as soon as possible. Each and every case of reported rape is investigated thoroughly, discreetly and vigorously.
“We offer a range of support to rape victims and all reports are dealt with sensitively and sympathetically.”
The figures show 960 people were arrested on suspicion of rape in Northamptonshire over the past five years, with 211 cases ending up in court. Conviction rates were not available.
In 2011, 195 people were arrested on suspicion of rape. Of these, 131 were for raping a woman aged over 16, 30 for raping a girl under 16 and 23 for raping a girl under 13. There were 11 arrests for male rapes. A total of 37 people ended up in court on rape charges, 24 of which were accused of raping women over the age of 16.