A campaign to encourage victims of sexual assault and rape to come forward has been launched by police after a rise in the number of reported cases.

In Huntingdonshire, there were 108 reports of serious sexual offences between April 2013 and March 2014, compared with 74 beween April 2012 and March 2013. This trend was also reflected in other areas of the county.

The month-long initiative from Cambridgeshire police was launched today (Monday) and is part of the Get Closer campaign. It aims to raise awareness that women, men, teenagers, and children can all be victims and assaults can be committed by strangers, family members, or friends. The key message to offenders is “if they say no, they mean no”.

Police said that sexual assaults often go unreported because people are scared to talk to someone, feel as if they won't be listened to, or just don't know who to contact. The force will be working with the Oasis @ Rivergate, Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) and a number of partner agencies including Rape Crisis, Victim Support and the Samaritans in order to provide counselling, medical examinations and treatment for victims.

Detective chief inspector Karryann Beeby, from the force's public protection department, said: “We understand just how difficult it is for victims to come forward and report sexual assault and rape.

“This type of crime can change your life and we want to make sure those people affected know where they can come to get advice and support.

“I want to reassure victims that we investigate each and every case to ensure justice is done. I would also like to thank our partner members for their support.

“We are undertaking a number of preventative messages to warn those who do commit such crimes that they will be punished and it may result in a prison sentence.”

The initiative will target schools, colleges, universities, online dating websites, pubs, clubs and local events, to encourage people to report sexual assault and rape.

INFORMATION: If the incident has just taken place, dial 999, or in other circumstances, call police on 101. To speak to staff at Oasis@Rivergate, call 0845 0896262.