Increase in sexual offences recorded in Portsmouth in last year 'reflect reality' of experiences for women
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Hampshire Constabulary recorded 845 incidents of sexual offences in Portsmouth in the 12 months to June, the Office for National Statistics’ latest data release shows.
That was an increase of nine per cent compared to the previous year – and reflects ‘lived experiences’ of women, according to a charity in the city.
At 3.9 crimes per 1,000 people, that was slightly higher than the rate across England and Wales, which stood at 2.8.
Dr Shonagh Dillon, from Aurora New Dawn, said: ‘The rise in reporting of sexual offences in Portsmouth reflects the reality of lived experience particularly for women and girls. Although the reported crimes appear to be higher than the national average this could be due to better reporting mechanisms rather than more offences occurring.
‘During the months after the murder of Sarah Everard and the ground swell of community responses to the way women and girls have to navigate everyday safety it is unsurprising that more are choosing to report sexual crimes against them.
‘As an organisation we support any survivor of sexual violence whether or not they choose to report to the police.’
Nick Stripe, head of crime statistics at the ONS, said the figures showed overall reductions in the reporting and recording of many crime types during periods of lockdown.
Portsmouth police district commander Clare Jenkins said an uptick in the figures shows the police’s proactive approach.
She said: ‘Sexual offences and violence against woman and girls is a priority for us and we have been very proactive in encouraging victims to report incidents, as it’s been found that victims of sexual offences historically have been less likely to report to police.
‘It’s vital to us that victims feel confident to report these to us when they happen. We also find that increased reporting of sexual offences can be prompted by high profile investigations in the national media, of which we’ve had a couple over the past year.
‘Increases can show that the public have greater confidence in coming forward to speak to us and we welcome that. These offences can be incredibly traumatic for victims and no-one should feel reluctant to report this kind of crime. Victims will be listened to, supported and encouraged by police and other support agencies.
‘We want members of the public to know that when we receive these sorts of allegations, we will take them seriously and do everything in our power to bring those responsible to justice.’
Reports of fraud and hacking also continued to rise – something the ONS previously suggested was due to criminals taking advantage of behavioural changes during the pandemic, while many took to online shopping amid lockdowns when there were restrictions on movement.
The total number of offences in Portsmouth increased by one per cent, with police recording 24,506 crimes over the course of the year.
This puts the overall crime rate at 114.1 per 1,000 people, compared to a national average of 81.3.
Other crimes recorded in Portsmouth included:
:: 9,866 violent offences, a rise of one per cent,
:: 6,694 theft offences, a slight increase
:: 2,151 incidents of criminal damage and arson, down 10 per cent
:: 319 possession of weapons such as firearms or knives, up two per cent
:: 2,927 public order offences, up six per cent
The ONS figures show 61,158 rapes were recorded across England and Wales in the 12 months to June – the highest recorded annual figure to date, and up by 10 per cent from 55,779 the year before.