Number of sex crimes reported in Scotland reaches highest level in 45 years, nearly 50% of cases involved children

{above} Justice Secretary Michael Matheson says he is “proud” of the police’s work

wp-1475678661514.jpgNumber of sex crimes reported in Scotland reaches the highest level in 45 years, with nearly half of cases involving children 

WHILE recorded crime has fallen to its lowest level since 1974, sex crimes, including rape and sexual assault, increased to over 10,000. 

MORE than 10,000 sex crimes were reported to Police Scotland in a year, despite recorded crime falling to its lowest level since 1974.

New statistics show sex crimes, including rape and sexual assault, increased 7% to 10,273 in Scotland between 2014-15 and 2015-16 to the highest level in 45 years. Non-sexual violent crime, including attempted murder and serious assault, also rose 7% in the same period, to 6,775.

A total of 43% of sex crimes recorded involved child victims. Vandalism and fire-raising crimes increased 4% year on year to 54,226, while crimes of dishonesty, such as theft, housebreaking and shoplifting, fell 9% to 115,789. 

The “other crimes” category, which includes drug misuse, resisting arrest and handling offensive weapons, fell 4% to 59,180.

Overall recorded crime has dropped 4% to 246,243.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson praised Police Scotland’s “excellent” work.

He added: “I am very pleased that Scotland now has the lowest rate of recorded crime in 42 years, including reductions in drug crime, theft and handling offensive weapons over the last year. 

“While higher levels of recorded sexual crime are broadly in line with UK trends, these include a significant number of historical cases and may reflect greater willingness by victims to come forward, such incidents are completely unacceptable. This is why we have taken tough action to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice.”

Opposition politicians and abuse charities called for further action to tackle rising sex crimes.

Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Douglas Ross said: “The Scottish Government may crow about what it sees as record-low levels of crime, but that doesn’t tell the whole story – and will be of no comfort to the increasing number of victims of sexual crime. 

“Reporting of historic crime may make up part of this, but it’s clear there is an extremely alarming trend here.”

He called on the SNP to change the community sentencing system “which sees some serious criminals like rapists and child sex offenders escaping jail”.

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam McArthur said: “Despite the overall fall in recorded crime the number of sexual crimes recorded increased for the seventh year in a row – this time by 7%.

“More than four in 10 cases involved child victims. Our police officers face huge challenges to keep us safe. It is time that the Scottish Government got serious about backing our police.” 

Matt Forde, national head of service for NSPCC Scotland, said the rise of sex crimes against children is “extremely concerning” and he called on the authorities to “tackle this very real problem with the urgency it needs”.

Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said: “The increase in the report of sexual crime is in part a reflection of the increased level of confidence the public has in reporting this type of crime to the police with the knowledge that every complaint will be handled sensitively and professionally. This equally applies to reports of historical abuse.

“We recognise the increase in crimes of violence and although this remains low in a historical context, we continue to work with partners in communities to tackle violence and address the influence that alcohol plays in many of these crimes.”  SOURCE


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Sex crime in Scotland surges to 45-year high

Sex crime in Scotland has surged to its highest level in 45 years, according to “extremely alarming” official statistics published yesterday that prompted demands for SNP ministers to toughen up the justice system.

The Scottish Government’s annual report on recorded crime showed 10,273 sex offences were committed in 2015/16, seven per cent more than the previous year and a 53 per cent rise from 2006/07.

This is the highest total since 1971, with the total increasing every year since 2008/09, the year after the SNP came to power. In nearly half of cases, 43 per cent, the victim was a child under the age of 18.

The number of attempted rapes increased by 13 per cent last year to a record high. Although the total for rape and attempted rapes fell slightly, it has increased by 60 per cent over the past five years.

Sexual assaults increased by six per cent over the past year and 36 per cent over four years, with one of the main reasons a 56 per cent rise involving “penetration” of a female in 2015/16. The total number of sex assaults in the Highlands also rocketed by an astonishing 56 per cent in a single year.The number of “other” sex crimes increased 20 per cent from 3,555 to 4,254 in a single year. This category included those with victims aged between 13 and 15, indecent photographs of children, incest and indecent exposure.

Non-sexual violent crime also increased, by seven per cent, with the number of attempted murders and serious assaults surging by 27 per cent.

SNP ministers yesterday hailed figures showing overall crime is down four per cent to the lowest level since 1974. They blamed historic cases for the marked rise in sex offences. But Conservatives accused them of “crowing” about the total but said this would be “no comfort” to the increasing number of sex attack victims.

The statistics were published the week after it emerged that some rapists and child-sex offenders have been punished with the SNP’s community payback order (CPO) scheme rather than prison.

Police Scotland is investigating increasing numbers of sex crimes 

Douglas Ross, the Scottish Tories’ Shadow Justice Minister, said:

“Reporting of historic crime may make up part of this, but it’s clear there is an extremely alarming trend here. These are among the most traumatic crimes that can take place, and we owe it to the public to ensure the levels of these crimes reduce rather than increase.”

He argued that using CPOs to punish serious sex crimes

“sends out the wrong message and has to change as a matter of urgency.”

Claire Baker, his Labour counterpart also argued that the 45 per cent rise in sex crimes could not be entirely attributed to more victims coming forward or historic cases.

She said: “We need to accept that Scotland has an issue that needs to be seriously addressed.”

The figures also showed cases of fire-raising and vandalism went up by four per cent, while instances of stalking rose 15 per cent from 1,251 to 1,435. Meanwhile, illegal importation of drugs soared by a remarkable 148 per cent.

However, crimes of dishonesty fell by nine per cent and the number of instances of handling offensive weapons fell to its lowest level since 1984.

Michael Matheson, the Justice Minister, said the increase in sex crimes was “unacceptable” but said the Scottish Government had taken “tough action” to ensure the culprits are brought to justice. SOURCE