Sex offences in South Yorkshire have rocketed by an ‘alarming’ 70 per cent over the last year, new figures reveal.
Police chiefs believe publicity around a number of high profile cases has led to more victims of historic sex crimes coming forward to report offences.
Nationally it is thought the Jimmy Savile scandal has led to a surge in victims coming forward to report crimes.
Assistant Chief Constable Jo Byrne said: “The rise in the number of sexual offences may appear alarming, however we can reassure the public that this is a national trend, thought to be due to improved recording of such offences and also a sign that more victims and survivors are coming forward to report their experiences.
“We believe that as a result of a number of high-profile investigations, victims and survivors trust that they will be supported and listened to.”
Recorded crime in South Yorkshire increased by three per cent between June 2014 and June 2015.
In addition to sex offences, there was a 25 per cent hike in violent crime and a 20 per cent rise in public order offences.
But burglaries of homes fell by 10 per cent and there was an 11 per cent drop in thefts from vehicles.
ACC Byrne added: “We hope that the residents of South Yorkshire feel reassured by these figures, in particular the reduction in burglary and theft offences.
“Over the last 12 months we have run a number of targeted operations and campaigns around crime prevention and putting the spotlight on offenders which we believe has had an impact within communities.
“We know how traumatic a burglary can be which is why we continue our large-scale efforts into reducing the volumes of burglary.”
She said the increase in violence is down to a change in the way offences are now recorded.
And she blamed the hike in public order offences on a number of demonstrations there have been in South Yorkshire over the last year, including right wing marches in Rotherham.
“We are confident that the rise in violent crime is related to the fact that we have changed the way it is recorded, which is something we expect to impact on figures nationally,” she added.
“We can however reassure the public that we are focusing our efforts around violence in public places, particularly in the night time economy and are continuing to encourage victims and survivors of domestic abuse to come forward.
“This can be said of all crime types and we hope that our proactive policing is giving victims the courage and confidence to report all instances of crime.
“The figures show that there were 68 more public order offences recorded from July 2014 to June 2015 compared to the previous 12 months.
“It is no surprise that we have seen a rise as the statistics cover a period which has seen a number of demonstrations and marches take place in the county and with more planned, we will continue to use our resources in a bid to safely and effectively manage the additional pressure these events place on our staff.”
The figures come at a time when South Yorkshire Police is battling to save £59 million by 2020 because of Government-imposed funding cuts.
“It is no secret that we have recently lost many experienced and valued members of the force through voluntary redundancy,” said ACC Byrne.
“We have also undergone a restructure with local policing teams now in place to maximise the time officers can spend in communities.
“Across all types of crime we remain committed to delivering the best possible service to victims of crime as well as bringing those responsible to justice.”