Sex crimes reached the highest level recorded in the past five years last year, according to a new report.
Police Scotland’s third quarter performance report showed that between April and December 2021, overall sexual crime increased by 13.7% (1,360 crimes) on the previous year and 18% on to the five-year average.
A total of 11,266 sex crimes were recorded.
He said the sexual assault and rape of women continues to be the main driver of the overall increase in sex crimes, with the number of rapes up 10.4% from the previous year.
Meanwhile, hate crimes overall were about the same as the previous year, however, the report noted that an increase in hate crimes with disability, transgender and sexual orientation as aggravating factors was concerning.
The report said overall violent crime between April and December (47,789) was in line with the five-year average (down 0.2%), although it was 6.3% higher than the same period the previous year.
He said this was likely due to reduced levels of most types of violent crime as a result of coronavirus lockdowns.
Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor said: “Demand in the areas of sexual crime and cybercrime, in particular, has increased compared to the five-year average.
“This increase shows how our response to online crime and protecting the public is a key part of frontline policing in a modern society.
“We are investing in our digital forensics capability and significant work is underway to implement our cyber strategy.
“Tackling sex crimes remains a key priority and we will continue to focus our campaigning and enforcement in this area.”
There were 1,412 recorded online child sexual abuse crimes, a decrease of 8.8% (137 fewer crimes) from the previous year and a 12% increase from the average over five years.
Police Scotland said their sex crime prevention campaign ‘Don’t Be That Guy’ aims to reduce sexual offenses by challenging men’s sexual rights and highlights the role men can play in recognizing and combating misogynistic behavior.
It is also developing a strategy to address violence against women and girls that will be part of its overall public protection strategy and said a key part of that strategy will be engaging and listening to survivors.
The report also presented findings from the service’s Your Police Survey between October and December 2021, in which more than 800 members of the public shared their views on policing in Scotland.
The survey showed overall self-reported trust in the police over this period (43%) returned to levels closer to the 2019-20 average of 48%, after significantly higher results in 2020-21 (57%), when the strictest Covid restrictions were in place.
Respondents said friendly and approachable police doing a difficult job in their communities were appreciated, while increased police visibility, especially during Cop26, was seen as a positive.
Major areas of public concern included antisocial behavior and drug-related harm.
Ms Taylor said: “Successfully monitoring Cop26 and responding to the complex policing needs of our communities, while responding to the challenges presented by the coronavirus, means that the third quarter reporting period continued to be a demanding and relentless time. for our dedicated officers and staff.
“To support effective policing, we have taken swift action to maximize the availability of officers and staff in frontline community duties, including the deployment of over 300 specialist duty officers and over 250 officers on probation, with proper supervision, in local police divisions.
“The trainee constables have now resumed their initial training and we will manage our recruitment in order to build up our full complement of officers over time.