Sex crimes recorded by police have passed the 100,000 mark in a year for the first time, while killings have jumped by more than a 10th, official figures reveal.
Forces logged 103,614 sexual offences in 2015 - a rise of 29% on the previous year and nearly double the level seen five years ago.
The number of rapes - 34,741 - and other sex crimes - 68,873 - were the highest recorded since the year ending March 2003
Improvements in recording practices are thought to be behind the trend, as well as a greater willingness of victims to come forward following high-profile investigations after the Jimmy Savile scandal.
Police data also revealed an 11% jump in homicides - which include murder, manslaughter, infanticide and corporate manslaughter - with the number rising by 56 to 573 last year.
Figures indicate that the rate of homicide has fallen by over a third between the years ending March 2005 and December 2015, from 16 homicides per million of population to 10 per million.
Crime data is presented by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in two indexes - offences reported to and recorded by police forces, and the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) in which people are quizzed about their experiences of crime.
Overall, the survey found there were about 6.4 million incidents of crime against households and residents aged 16 and over - a 7% fall compared with the previous year.
Police-recorded crime rose by 7% to 4.4 million offences. The ONS said: "Most of this rise is thought to be owing to improved crime recording by the police leading to a greater proportion of reports of crime being recorded in the last year."
There was a 27% rise in offences of violence against the person recorded, with every force seeing an increase. Improvements in recording processes are thought to be the main driver of this trend. An increase in reporting of domestic abuse was also cited as a factor.
Estimated levels of violence drawn from the CSEW were at a similar level to the previous year, with 1.3 million incidents. The data appears to chime with suggestions that recent sharp drops in violent crime have begun to level off.
The ONS report said: "Estimates of violent crime from the CSEW have shown large falls since peak levels in the mid-1990s, but the latest year's survey has shown little change compared with the previous year. The apparent 2% fall was not statistically significant."
The number of violent incidents estimated by the survey has decreased by around two-thirds since peaking in 1995.
Other findings included:
:: A 4% increase in the volume of fraud offences referred to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB)
:: Offences involving firearms increased by 4% to 5,122, but this was largely driven by an increase in crimes involving imitation and other weapons such as BB guns
:: Police recorded 28,008 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument, a 9% increase on the previous year
Policing minister Mike Penning said: "Police reform is working and crime is falling - it is now down by well over a quarter since June 2010, according to the independent Crime Survey for England and Wales.
"People, communities and property across the country are safer as a result. The survey shows that violence has fallen by 25% over the same period - meaning we are now seeing 427,000 fewer violent crimes a year.
"The Office for National Statistics is clear that the rise in police-recorded violent and sexual offences largely reflects improved recording practices by police and a greater willingness of victims to come forward - both of which we welcome."
Jeff Farrar, of the National Police Chiefs' Council, said: "It is encouraging to see a further reduction of overall crime in these latest crime figures, the lowest since the survey began in 1981."