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Sexual crimes in Scotland reach highest level since records began

Image credit: European Parliament Flickr

Sexual crimes in Scotland reach highest level since records began

Sexual crimes in Scotland have risen by eight per cent, reaching the highest level since 1971, but crisis centres say the figures are “just a drop in the ocean” as many do not report the crime to police.

The Scottish Government released national statistics this week on crimes and offences recorded by police in 2018-19. The figures revealed overall reported crime in Scotland increased by one per cent between 2017-18 and 2018-19 (from 244,504 to 246,480), while non-sexual violent crimes rose by ten per cent.

There were an additional 1,060 sexual crimes in that year, as sex crimes rose by eight per cent – from 12,487 to 13,547. Since 2009-10 sexual crimes have increased by 108 per cent, while reported rape and attempted rape has surged by 115 per cent since 2010-11.

The report stated: “The recording of these crimes is at the highest level seen since 1971, the first year for which comparable groups are available.”

It attributed the overall increase to a rise in reports of sexual assault, finding 27 local authorities had seen an increase in sexual assault since 2009-10, with 18 recording increases since 2017.

“Sexual assault accounted for 38 per cent of sexual crimes in 2018-19. This category has been on an upward trend since 2011-12, having increased by 76 per cent since that time,” the report said.

“One of the main drivers behind the increase in sexual assault between 2017-18 and 2018-19 was a 14 per cent increase in crimes of sexual assault against an adult 16+, accounting for 93 per cent of the overall increase,” the report said.

Thirty-nine per cent of the reported sexual crimes related to a victim aged under 18, rape accounted for 38 per cent of all sexual crimes, and attempted rape 18 per cent. Crimes associated with prostitution represented two per cent.

Responding to the new figures, the Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis centre said they were seeing “just over two new women each day of the week”.

“That's 15 new women a week. Waiting list for all rape crisis centres are on the rise again,” the centre tweeted.

Rape Crisis Scotland chief executive Sandy Brindley said the statistics “should be a wake-up call”.

She said rises in reported sexual crimes were “often – in part – put down to more confidence amongst survivors in reporting to the police”.

However, Brindley added: “We can’t keep putting this increase down to more survivors feeling confident in reporting without asking deeper questions, not least what their experience is when they do report.”

“Firstly, we should be clear that these figures are just a drop in the ocean. We know that half of those survivors who access Rape Crisis have not reported their experience to the police,” she said.

“Secondly, though there has been a significant increase in reports, this is not mirrored by an increase in convictions, which means that across Scotland many survivors are left devastated and without justice. It also means a high likelihood that guilty men are walking free.

“Thirdly it should be noted that local rape crisis services are doing incredible work in the face of unprecedented demand.

“Too often survivors are forced to wait for this often life-saving support; to fix this quite simply local services need more money.”

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said the impact of a crime on victims, “particularly of sexual or violent crimes, is often devastating”.

“That is why we are strengthening how Scotland’s justice system and other public services support victims, while investing in both law enforcement and crime prevention projects,” he said.

“We want victims to have the confidence to report crimes to the police. We are investing record levels of funding to support victims through a range of front-line specialist services.

“This research will help police, together with local and national government to better understand the nature of repeat violence – including the role of substance misuse – and ensure we focus our efforts on those most affected by violence wherever it persists.”

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