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19 June 2014, 15:17
More victims are reporting sexual crime and rape, according to Police Scotland.
Official figures from April last year to March this year - the first full year of the single service - showed that while overall crime fell and crimes of violence decreased by 10 per cent, there were rises in the number of sexual crimes and rapes reported.
The data showed sex crime increased by 11.8 per cent, and the number of rapes reported soared by 23.2 per cent. It also revealed that almost a quarter of rape victims are under 15 at the time of the crime, while 18 per cent of victims were attacked while they were sleeping.
There's been a slight fall, of 1.8 per cent, in the number of domestic abuse incidents being reported, but there were still 58,976.
Chief Constable Sir Stephen House said: ''The publication of our management information today provides a 12 month profile of crime, offences and incidents across the country. This covers the first year of Police Scotland and the figures help us manage and monitor our activity nationwide as we focus on keeping people safe in local communities.
''The data clearly shows rises in sexual crime including the number of rape cases reported to us and investigated.
''We said from the outset of the single service that such crimes were under-reported and that we wanted to instil confidence in those who suffer at the hands of sexual offenders or domestic abusers. Measures were put in place to ensure that not only could victims have the confidence to be able to come forward and report to us but that those who offend in this way would be targeted in a more consistent and targeted way.
''The result of those approaches can be seen in the information published today â€“ more victims of sexual crime including rape are willing to report to the police and more offenders are being caught by officers.
''We have introduced national rape and domestic abuse taskforces to co-ordinate our work in the most challenging of cases and we have seen notable outcomes at court with high risk individuals being convicted of abhorrent crimes spanning many years and many victims.
''Rape and domestic abuse investigation teams are located in every policing division to ensure our response locally is the best it can be.
''Rape presents unique challenges in terms of investigation and evidence gathering and such inquiries can be extremely complex. The availability of specialist officers will build consistency across Scotland in delivering in such a sensitive area of investigation.
''Police Scotland will continue to working strongly with partners to provide a united approach to addressing the issue of rape and domestic abuse. We must tackle the offenders to reduce the number of victims we see day in, day out coming to us to report some horrendous crimes. These are crimes which occur across Scotland, in every community, with victims and offenders from all backgrounds. Regardless of where or when a crime has taken place Police Scotland is committed to keeping people safe and will continue with every effort to provide routes for victims to come forward and ensure there are no hiding places for offenders.â€
Detective Superintendent Louise Raphael, lead officer for the National Rape Task Force, said: ''The figures do not necessarily mean there are more of these types of crimes being committed. For years there has been a significant issue with under-reporting indicating a lack of confidence in the system and a fear about speaking out about such serious matters.
''Our assessment is that people are becoming more confident in speaking out, often regarding incidents which happened some time prior to contact being made with the police or other organisations. Changes to the legal definition of rape, the way we work with partners and improvements in the way we now investigate these crimes has influenced the number and type of cases we are seeing.''
Detective Chief Superintendent Lesley Boal, lead officer for Public Protection within the Specialist Crime Division, said: ''Earlier this year we embarked on a campaign called â€˜We Can Stop Itâ€™ which was aimed at providing messages to men around what constitutes rape and the issue of consent. The basic message is sex without consent is rape and responsibility for rape will always lie with the rapist. If consent is not given to sex, it becomes rape. This is a worldwide issue and we have also seen similar campaigns relating to sexual assault in the USA.
''My message to communities is clear: if you are a victim of sexual assault, rape or domestic abuse, please report it to us. If you are a male and are unsure whether someone has given consent, assume they have not; finally, if you an offender who commits such acts, I want you to be in no doubt that Police Scotland investigates every report of rape thoroughly with the likelihood of you being traced, detained and charged. Officers investigating these crimes are specially trained to deal with these particular circumstances. They are dedicated and determined to seek justice for the victims and are committed to finding those responsible.''
Overall, the data showed that overall crime fell by just under one per cent with a slight increase of 0.2 per cent in the detection rate. Crimes of violence including attempted murder, serious and common assault and robbery all decreased. The number of murders reported remained static at 56 cases. Violent crime decreased by 10 per cent in total.
Significant in-roads were made in tackling serious and organised crime during the first 12 months of Police Scotland. The data showed 2677 arrests linked to serious organised crime and that crime groups were deprived of access to legitimate enterprise worth more than £65.5m and Proceeds of Crime Act recoveries totalling £82m in cash and restraints.
Other crime types also decreased across the country during the year including anti-social behaviour, vandalism and disorder. Reported crimes of dishonesty including housebreaking and motor vehicle related theft increased.
The figures showed that there were fewer road collisions and fewer people injured on Scotland's road network. However, 191 people died during the 12 month period as a result of 176 collisions. This was an increase of 24 more people than during the previous year.
The full report can be accessed at www.scotland.police.uk