THE number of sexual offences reported in Hampshire has nearly tripled over the last four years, new data shows.
But the director of a centre for victims said the figure could be the ‘tip of the iceberg.’
A total of 4,939 sexual offences were reported in the 12 months ending March this year, compared to 1,658 in 2013.
Overall in Hampshire there were 150,560 crimes excluding fraud reported – up from 133,044 a year before, according to the data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Kim Hosier, centre director of Portsmouth Abuse and Rape Counselling Service (PARCS), said the figures showed there is more support for victims.
She said: ‘Speaking to other centres we are all seeing an increase in people coming forward.
‘It’s difficult to know what has caused that but there has been more media coverage and soaps have covered it.
‘Over the last few years there’s been more support as people go through the justice process. For a number of years now police have had specialist training.
‘It’s a huge step but there’s still a lot that needs doing. It could still be the tip of the iceberg for people coming forward.’
There were 3,585 drug offences reported in the county, down from 6,498 in 2012.
Nearly five million offences were recorded in England and Wales – an annual rise of 10 per cent.
This was largely driven by increases in violence against people, up 175,060 offences (18 per cent), theft, up 118,774 (seven per cent) and public order offences, up 78,697 (39 per cent).
Detective Chief Superintendent Stuart Murray said: ‘The increase in the reporting of offences should not always be seen as a negative issue.
‘These sorts of increases can be a reflection of the greater confidence the public has in coming forward to speak to us. We have been very proactive, encouraging victims to report incidents.’
But Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan warned that the increased levels of crime were down to government cuts which were ‘leaving communities exposed.’
He added: ‘Our police are at breaking point with crime on the rise. Yet the government continue to force real terms cuts on our police service.’
‘People in our community want to see the local police given the resources and the officers they need. The government must do more to fight crime and anti-social behaviour.
‘That’s what the people of Portsmouth expect.’