Colchester: Victim 'forever grateful' to police after abuser jailed for 21 years
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Three victims abused by a man as children have thanked their investigating officer at Essex Police and support workers from partner agencies after he was jailed.
They said that their “faith in human nature has been restored” and that “for the first time, I feel I can start my life again”.
They also “urge anyone who has been sexually abused to report it, have faith in the police and the judicial system”.
Their statements come after 67-year-old Robert West appeared at Ipswich Crown Court, convicted of seven counts of non-recent sexual offences.
West, of Whitehall Road, Colchester, was arrested in March 2020. His offences took place over 15 years, dating back to the 1980s.
On Wednesday 20 September, he was sentenced to 21 years’ imprisonment.
The victims have praised the officer in the case, as well as their advisor at the Centre for Action on Rape and Abuse (CARA) and volunteers at The Citizens Advice Witness Service.
'Justice has prevailed'
Speaking after the verdict, one victim said:
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Essex Police personally for pursuing and achieving the best possible outcome with regards to the guilty conviction of Robert West for his abuse of myself and others. “I have been supported and kept up to speed with updates as and when they were required, with the guilty conviction becoming possible due largely to the efforts and tenacity of DS Atkins-Calver and her wider team and for that I will be eternally grateful.”
“The court process has been long and while I have been anxious, I feel that now the guilty verdict has been made, justice has prevailed. “I will forever be grateful for the thorough investigation DS Atkins-Calver took and her honesty, even when it wasn’t something I wanted to hear. “She treated me with respect, dignity, kindness and empathy and I’m also grateful for the support from CARA.”
The third victim said:
“I would like to thank DS Atkins-Calver who, from the minute I walked into the police station to report the abuse, was friendly, professional and believed me. “I have lived with the sexual abuse I suffered at the hands of Robert West for 22 years and though the pain and hurt will always be there, I now feel free for the first time. I feel I can start my life again. “DS Atkins-Calver is a true inspiration to her job and I’m incredibly thankful for everything she has done. “I would urge anyone who has been or is being sexually abused to report it, have faith in the police and the judicial system.”
“As with every investigation, this has been a team effort between my team and I, and all of our partners who are just as determined to help support victims and get justice as we are. “West is exactly where he belongs and I’m sure it will take him a long time to accept that he hasn’t ‘got away with it’, something that he would threaten to the children he abused. “This is the reason we do our jobs, to be the spokespeople for those who deserve to have their stories told and who need and deserve answers for what they’ve been through. “My work pales in comparison to the bravery these individuals and many others continue to show and I’m proud to have been able to get this result for them.”
Top record on tackling sexual offending
Specialist teams dedicated to tackling serious sexual offending across Essex recently saw the force ranked the best in the country at bringing predators to justice.
Essex Police was ranked 1st out of 43 forces across the UK for its sexual offences conviction rate, spanning the 12 months until May 2023.
Across the county, an unmatched 91.3% of sexual offence cases ended with a successful conviction, compared against the 84.5% average nationally.
Our officers solved 576 sexual offences across this period – an increase of 130 on the year before –solving 96 cases involving rape, an increase of 30 year-on-year.
Synergy Essex provides support and guidance for survivors of sexual and sexual abuse across Essex.
The Essex Rape Crisis Partnership is formed of three organisations:
CARA (Centre for Action on Rape and Abuse) who cover mid and north Essex.
SERICC (Rape and Sexual Abuse Specialist Service) who cover South and West Essex.
SOS Rape Crisis who cover Southend, Castle Point and Rochford.
Survivors can self-refer and receive emotional support, specialist sexual violence and abuse counselling and or specialist advocacy services, no matter when the sexual violence or abuse occurred. In addition to this, they also offer support to survivor’s loved ones.