Sexual offences logged by police in England and Wales hit record high

Sexual offences logged by police in England and Wales hit record high thumbnail

The number of sexual offences logged by police has hit a record high in England and Wales.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) there were 199,021 sex crimes logged by forces up to September 2022, an increase of 22%, in comparison to March 2020 (163,244).

Of these, 35% (70,633) were rapes – a 20% increase from the 59,104 recorded in the year prior to the pandemic.

Diana Fawcett, chief executive of charity Victim Support, said the system is in “crisis” as a rise in recorded sexual offences comes as cases seeking justice plummet to an “abysmal new low”.

“Charges for rape and sexual offences have been falling sharply for the past six years,” she said. “We are on a path to destroying victims’ faith in the criminal justice system altogether.”

Pic: ONS

Figures also showed that the overall number of crimes recorded by England and Wales police forces exceeded pre-pandemic levels to reach 6.6 million.

But the ONS urged that the data be interpreted with “caution” as a “number of factors” could be responsible for the increase. Including improvements in how police record crime as well as high-profile cases and campaigns encouraging victims to step forward.

It added that the rise in overall crime was “largely driven by increases in the offence categories, which are most subject to changes in reporting and recording practices”, meaning the figures “may not reflect a genuine increase in crime”.

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Meghan Elkin from the ONS, said that police-recorded crime figures are a “better indicator of police activity”, rather than providing a reliable insight into crime trends.

While the figures are the highest recorded for England and Wales annually, the crime survey shows no significant change in prevalence.

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The number of homicides and robberies also rose in the last year, as well as crimes involving knives and firearms recorded by police. But they all remain below levels seen before the pandemic.