Sex crimes recorded by police soar to 15-year high

Updated: 

A "greater willingness" of sex abuse victims to come forward has seen the number of sex crimes recorded by police soar to a 15-year high, according to a new report.

Police forces recorded 106,098 sexual offences in the year ending March 2016 - a 20% rise on the previous year and the largest total since new recording standards were introduced in 2002, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

An ONS analysis of the Crime Survey for England and Wales said: "As well as improvements in recording practices, this is thought to reflect a greater willingness of victims to come forward to report such crimes, including non-recent victims."

Over the same period, there was an 8% rise in reports of offences that took place over 20 years ago compared with the previous year.

The report suggested recording of historical sexual offences had been on the rise since high-profile coverage of police investigations such as Operation Yewtree, which was launched in 2012 in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

The report comes as HM Inspectorate of Constabulary warned forces were under-recording reports of crime including violent and sexual offences, but not rape.

The ONS analysis found there was a 22% rise in rape to 35,699 crimes compared with the previous year, while other sexual offences rose 19% to 70,399 reports.

There were large year-on-year rises in specific offences such as sexual activity involving a child under 16 (31%), sexual assault on a female aged 13 and over (20%) and sexual grooming (51%).

An estimated 2% of adults had experienced sexual assault, including attempts, in the 12 months to March 2016.

Analysis of separate figures from the Home Office Data Hub found 90% of rape victims were women and the majority (78%) of sexual offences were against people aged under 30.