04 November 2021

Rape offences recorded by police hit new annual high

04 November 2021

Police forces in England and Wales have recorded the highest number of rapes and the second highest number of sexual offences in a 12-month period, figures show.

There were 61,158 rapes recorded in the year to June, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), up 10% from the previous period (55,779). This was the highest ever recorded annual figure to date and included 17,285 offences between April and June – also the highest quarterly figure.

The figures are the first to include the weeks and months immediately after the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard in March.

The second highest number of sexual offences was also recorded in the 12 months to June (164,763), an 8% increase compared to 152,659 the previous year. This was driven by the highest ever recorded quarterly figure (48,553) for the same three-month period in 2021.

Rape accounted for 37% of all sexual offences recorded by police.

(PA Graphics) (PA Graphics)

Nick Stripe, head of crime statistics at the ONS, said the police figures show a “large increase in the recording of rape and sexual offences during the latest April to June 2021 quarter”, but urged caution when interpreting the data, adding: “The rise could be due to an increase in victim reporting as lockdowns eased, an increase in the number of victims, or to an increase in victims’ willingness to report incidents, potentially as a result of high-profile cases and campaigns in recent times.”

Ms Everard, 33, was attacked and killed by Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens, prompting a national outcry and debate about the safety of women.

Jeffrey DeMarco, assistant director at the charity Victim Support, said: “Much more needs to be done urgently to tackle both these offences and to ensure that those who come forward and report them are able to access justice.”

The police recorded 846,235 offences (not including fraud crimes) flagged as domestic abuse-related for the 12-month period, representing a 6% increase from 813,958 offences in the previous year.

This included 687,328 offences of violence against the person labelled as domestic abuse-related, a 7% increase compared to the previous year (641,672).

The ONS said it is “difficult to determine” the levels of domestic abuse in the country using police recorded data because of changes in the way the crimes are reported so “we cannot conclude whether there has been an increase in the number of victims of domestic abuse”, but added: “Data from victim services suggests that experiences of domestic abuse may have intensified during periods of national lockdown and that victims faced difficulties in safely seeking support under these conditions.”

Domestic abuse-related crimes and sexual offences recorded by police “do not provide a reliable measure of trends in these types of crime” as improvements in police recording practices and increased reporting by victims have contributed to rises in recent years”, the ONS stressed.

It added: “The figures do, however, provide a good measure of the crime-related demand on the police.”

Police recorded 5.8 million crimes in England and Wales in the year to June, similar to the previous period.

Overall there were reductions in the reporting and recording of many crimes during the lockdowns amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But reports of fraud and hacking 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.

In the latest period, Action Fraud, the national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre, reported a 36% rise in fraud offences, from 312,273 to 424,397.

(PA Graphics) (PA Graphics)

The data showed a 34% increase in “online shopping and auctions” fraud in the latest year (from 70,761 to 94,795 offences) and a 51% increase in “financial investment fraud” (from 14,685 to 22,200 offences), the ONS said.

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau also reported a 31% increase in “hacking – personal” offences referred by Action Fraud (from 4,065 to 5,336 offences).

There were 1.8 million anti-social behaviour (ASB) incidents recorded by police in the year to June, up 7% after “consistent decreases over the past 10 years”.

The ONS suggests this could reflect the reporting of breaches of coronavirus laws, which most police forces recorded as ASB.

Stalking and harassment also rose by 30% from 517,595 offences recorded by police in 2019/20 to 673,605 in 2020/21.

According to the figures, the number of homicides fell by 11%, there was a 8% drop in the number of offences involving knives or sharp instruments and police recorded offences involving firearms were down 6%.

Robbery fell by 21%, as did theft – driven by a drop in crimes like shoplifting and burglary.

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