Sexual crime has increased in the Falkirk district over the past year, according to the latest statistics.
The number of sex crimes recorded in the area jumped from 274 last year to 289 for 2015/16 and up 67 on the previous year 2013/14.
It is the only crime category that has risen over the period with violent, dishonesty (which include housebreaking and shoplifting) fire-raising and vandalism and motor vehicle crimes all showing a decrease.
There were a total of 17,321 crimes last year in Falkirk, down from 19,974 in 2014/15, and a 40 per cent decrease over the past decade.
The figures show that recorded crime in Scotland is also at its lowest level since 1974, with a total of 246,243 crimes recorded nationally compared with 256,350 the year before.
Justice Secretary and Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson welcomed the overall figures, but warned tougher action against those guilty of sexual crimes.
He said: “While higher levels of recorded sexual crime are broadly in line with UK trends, 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.
“Since 2006-07 we have also invested more than £10.5 million in a range of violence reduction programmes during which time violent crime has more than halved (down 52 per cent) and is at its second lowest level since 1974.
“The report also indicates that female victims of common assault were far more likely than men to be assaulted by a partner or ex-partner – underlining why the Scottish Government has committed an additional £20 million over three years to tackle violence against women, alongside our plan to strengthen legislation against all forms of domestic abuse.”
Detective Chief Inspector Gary Boyd in charge of the Forth Valley Public Protection Unit said: “The recently published figures do reveal an increase in sexual crime, however, I feel that this may in part be due to the work Police Scotland has done, independently and with partners, to encourage people to report such crimes, recent and non-recent.
“I do believe it reflects a growing public confidence that any individual who has suffered this type of crime has a voice and that Police Scotland will listen to them.
“I also think the development of specialist investigators and resources dedicated to investigating sexual crimes alongside the close liaison with the Procurator Fiscal service and the use of the latest advances in forensic investigation adds to that sense of confidence.”
Police Scotland Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said the force will continue to work with communities to identify issues.
Sex crime more than doubled
Recorded sexual crime has more than doubled over the past decade and is at its highest level since 1971.
There has been a slight decrease in the number of recorded rapes but there is also a significant increase of seven per cent in overall sexual offences. In 43 per cent of sexual crimes, the victim was under 18.
National co-ordinator for Rape Crisis Scotland Sandy Brindley said: “It is important that people have confidence in reporting sexual crime. Changes introduced by Police Scotland in recent years have transformed how sexual crime is investigated in Scotland. It is likely that at least some of the increase in recorded sexual crime is due to people having more confidence to report what has happened to them.
“However, it is also possible that there has been a significant increase in the actual levels of sexual crime taking place.
“Rape Crisis Scotland runs a prevention project which works with young people across the country on issues around consent and healthy relationships.
“In the past three years we have worked with over 18,000 young people and in 102 schools across the country. Young people overwhelming tells us that they need information and support on these issues.
“Rape Crisis Scotland is calling on the Scottish Government to ensure that all young people in Scotland has access to appropriate information and support around consent and healthy sexual relationships.”
Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald said: “Having safe communities where everyone feels welcome are vital to creating the Scotland that we all want to see – and these figures show that, under the SNP, we have made significant progress in achieving this goal.
“These are welcome figures that show a steep fall in recorded crime in the period since the SNP entered office in 2007 – and shows that SNP policies, such as having more police officers, have made our communities safer.
“It is excellent to see a decline in recorded crime of 40 per cent across the Falkirk District, part of a Scotland-wide picture that shows an overall fall of 41 per cent since 2006/07.”
Crime figures in the Falkirk district since 2011/12
2015/2016 – non-sexual crimes of violence: 178; sexual crimes: 289; crimes of dishonesty: 2772; fire-raising, vandalism: 1443; other crimes: 1417. Total crimes: 6099. Miscellaneous offences: 4502; motor vehicle offences: 6720. Total offences: 11,222. Total crimes and offences: 17,321.
2014/15 – violent crimes: 182; sexual crimes: 274; crimes of dishonesty: 3227; fire-raising and vandalism: 1472; other crimes: 1490; miscellaneous offences: 4652; motor vehicle offences: 8677; total crimes and offences: 19,974.
Clear-up rates (per cent): violent crimes: 97.8; sexual crimes: 79.6; crimes of dishonesty: 40.6; fire-raising and vandalism: 31.3; other crimes: 97.3; total crimes: 54.4.
2013/14 – violent crimes: 149; sexual crimes: 222; crimes of dishonesty: 3533; fire-raising and vandalism: 1584; other crimes: 1722; miscellaneous offences: 4956; motor vehicle offences: 11,902; total crimes and offences: 24,068.
Clear-up rates: violent crimes: 93; sexual crimes: 86; crimes of dishonesty: 48; fire-raising and vandalism: 34; other crimes: 97; total crimes: 59.
2012/13 – violent crimes: 156; sexual crimes: 231; crimes of dishonesty: 3502; fire-raising and vandalism: 1672; other crimes: 1738; total crimes: 7299. Clear-up: 61 per cent.
2011/12 – violent crimes: 183; sexual crimes: 253; crimes of dishonesty: 3771; fire-raising and vandalism: 2110; other crimes: 1717; total crimes: 8034. Clear-up: 58 per cent.