Sex offence concerns as crime figures rise

Police in Sunderland recorded a steep rise in sex offences last year, despite crime figures falling overall, according to new figures.

By Patrick Jack
Friday, 29th April 2022, 3:12 pm

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Sunderland sex crime figures increase.
Sunderland sex crime figures increase.

Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures show Northumbria Police recorded 961 sexual offences in the area in the 12 months to December – a 22% increase on the previous year.

The sex offence rate in the area is 3.5 crimes per 1,000 people - in line with the national rate of 3.1.

They were among 27,113 crimes recorded in Sunderland last year – down six per cent on 2020 – and putting the overall crime rate at 97.6 per 1,000 people, compared to a national average of 85.5.

Other crimes recorded in Sunderland included:

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*10,041 violent offences, a rise of four per cent.

*6,570 theft offences, down 16%.

*4,351 incidents of criminal damage and arson, down 11%.

*194 possessions of knives of firearms, down 11%

*3,478 public order offences, down nine per cent.

Around 6.1 million offences were recorded across England and Wales in the year to December – up eight per cent from 5.6 million in 2020.

The number of sex crimes logged by police nationally reached another record high in 2021.

Police forces recorded 183,587 rapes and sexual offences – up 22% on 2020, which was previously the highest annual figure to date.

There was also a rise in domestic-abuse related crime in 2021, and stalking and harassment.

Diana Fawcett, chief executive of the charity Victim Support, said she was "seriously concerned" by the latest figures.

She added: “Sadly, these figures reflect what we’re seeing. The number of sexual violence cases referred to us have increased by a third since before the pandemic.

“We also know that court delays for victims of sexual violence are at an all-time high and this is a very worrying combination."

The ONS said the latest statistics may reflect a number of factors, including the “impact of high-profile incidents, media coverage and campaigns on people’s willingness to report incidents to the police, as well as a potential increase in the number of victims”.

It said the overall number of crimes recorded were lower during lockdowns but that there were “substantial increases" from April 2021.