Sexual offences in England and Wales have hit a record high, increasing by more than a fifth compared to pre-pandemic levels. According to Home Office figures, 199,021 sexual offences and 70,633 rapes were recorded by forces in the year to September 2022. Though the number of recorded sex offences fell during Covid-19 lockdowns, there has been a sustained rise since April 2021.
The figures suggest that a high number of historical sex crimes are being reported. The increase in police figures is partly because victims are now more likely to come forward, and police are better at recording incidents.
Sexual harassment and abuse in England and Wales is prevalent, ranging from domestic violence to catcalling in the street, social media harassment, and revenge porn. Due to its prevalence, researchers have investigated the areas where sexual crimes are most prevalent. The study examined recorded sexual crimes from open data tables for the financial year 2021-2022, including the number of cases and types of sexual offences in different police jurisdictions across England and Wales. By analysing these offences and their frequency, we can better understand the extent of the issue and the impact sexual violence has on our society. The study analysed sexual offences in several large police jurisdictions in England.
Top recorded sexual offences by police jurisdiction
The British Transport Police district had 1,620 recorded sexual offences, accounting for 0.84% of all sexual crimes in England and Wales during the 2021-2022 financial year. Sexual assault on females aged 13 and over was the most common offence, making up 65.49% of all recorded sexual offences in this jurisdiction. Exposure and voyeurism accounted for 21.85% of all recorded sexual crimes.
In the Greater Manchester police district, there were 11,288 recorded sexual offences, which made up 5.83% of all sexual crimes in England and Wales during the 2021-2022 financial year. Sexual assault on females aged 13 and over was the most common offence, accounting for 24.67% of all recorded sexual offences in this jurisdiction.
London has two police jurisdictions: the City of London and the Metropolitan Police. Recorded sexual offences in the City of London accounted for 0.06% of all recorded sexual crimes in England and Wales during the 2021-2022 financial year. In contrast, the Metropolitan Police recorded sexual offences accounted for 12.96% of all recorded sexual crimes in England and Wales. The most common forms of sexual offences in the both for the City of London and Metropolitan forces were sexual assault on females aged 13 and over, rape of females aged 16 and over, and exposure and voyeurism
The West Midlands police district had 11,401 recorded sexual offences, which made up 5.89% of all sexual crimes in England and Wales during the 2021-2022 financial year. Sexual assault on females aged 13 and over and rape of females aged 16 and over were the most common offences, accounting for 23.36% and 29.06% of all recorded sexual offences, respectively. Sexual activity involving a child under 13 accounted for 6.24% of all recorded sexual crimes.
Several high-profile cases of sexual violence against women have recently been in the news. The case involving Stephen Bear’s voyeuristic and abusive behaviour towards his ex, Georgia Harrison. Cases such as this have highlighted the debate for an amendment to the law with the Online Safety Bill which aims to update the law in relation to the sharing of intimate images without the subject’s consent. At present the law only protects victims where the perpetrator shares in order to cause humiliation or distress.
The bill also aims to crack down on sexually exploitative pornography, deep fakes and down-blousing, as well as sharing misogynistic and hateful content online.
The police have also come under fire after a tidal wave of corruption allegations. The recent case involving serial rapist PC David Carrick, alongside the prolific Sarah Everard case, has added to the string of corrupt police abusing positions of power. Many argue that the problems lie within the institution.
The Home Office figures highlight that the criminal justice system is failing victims of sexual violence. The percentage of cases seeing justice has reached a new low. As Diana Fawcett, the chief executive of the Victim Support charity, stated, “the system is in crisis.” The CPS has been focusing on working in partnership with the police to make lasting changes in the way rape cases are approached, but there is still much work to be done.
Recent statistics have shown a worrying increase in reported cases of rape; however, charging and conviction rates remain historically low. This can be attributed to two primary reasons: the difficulty in proving cases of sexual harassment and violence and false allegations.
Need legal help?
When you’re accused of a sexual offence, it can have a devastating impact on your personal life, destroying your reputation and branding you as a sexual deviant. Most people facing accusations will have never been involved in criminal proceedings and not know where to turn to for legal advice and guidance. We strongly suggest contacting a criminal solicitor. Our solicitors specialise in sexual offences and comprehend the severe and complex landscape of sexual offences.
If you have been accused of a sexual offence, you can speak to one of our expert defence lawyers by calling our Manchester office on 0161 827 9500. If you’re calling out of office hours, contact us on 0161 832 7834 or complete our online form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.