Rapes and attempted rapes in Scotland increased by almost 50 per cent in March
Rapes and attempted rapes increased by almost 50 per cent in March, compared with the same month last year.
Police Scotland said they believed the reporting of sexual crime could be linked to the easing of the lockdown, though they said it would “take time to fully understand the impact the pandemic has and continues to have on both offending and reporting of sexual crime”.
According to the figures published on the Scottish Government’s website, there were 225 crimes of rape and attempted rape recorded in March 2021. In March 2020, the number was 152.
Other available monthly recorded crime stats show that the number has fallen significantly or remained stable for most of the last year.
However, in July last year, when Scotland entered Phase 3 of the government’s route map out of lockdown, the number of rapes and attempted rapes recorded by police rocketed by 42 per cent compared to the same month in the previous year.
In September, when nationwide restrictions on household gatherings and hospitality were reinstated, the number of rapes and attempted rapes recorded was up by four per cent, in October it was up by six per cent, but then fell by 20 per cent in November, and 19 per cent in December.
In January they fell by 17 per cent, and in February by 12 per cent.
Overall, there has been a fall in numbers. Between April 2019 and March 2020 there were 2,361 rapes and attempted rapes recorded by police, compared to 2,209 between April 2020 to March 2021, a fall of 6 per cent.
Detective Superintendent Fil Capaldi, head of Police Scotland’s Sexual Crimes Unit, said the increase in reporting does not necessarily mean an increase in the numbers of sexual crimes.
He told Holyrood: “Reporting of sexual crime, both recent and non-recent, has varied throughout the pandemic, with significant falls in reports during periods of lockdown and rises when restrictions were eased. It will take time to fully understand the impact the pandemic has and continues to have on both offending and reporting of sexual crime.
“Any increase in reporting does not necessarily mean an increase in the incidence of sexual crime. Overall sexual offences are still under reported and the reasons for this are complex.
“Police Scotland remains committed to working closely with partners, especially support and advocacy services, to encourage anyone to report these kind of crimes.
“I want to reassure anyone who has experienced sexual crime, no matter when, to come forward and report it to us. We are here to help. We will always listen and take action on all reports.”
Sandy Brindley from Rape Crisis Scotland said that a significant proportion of rapes being reported currently were historic.
She said: “I know reported rapes reduced quite a bit at the start of the first lockdown so I’m not surprised they subsequently increased. I think the figures can fluctuate so I’m not sure how much to read into monthly variation.”
Brindley added: “I do know that quite a significant proportion of rapes being reported currently are historic ie from more than 12 months ago.
“Rape crisis services provide advocacy and support throughout the justice process. It’s important for anyone who has experienced sexual crime to know that you don’t need to go through this alone."