Number of sexual offences recorded in Leeds increases "substantially" following Covid lockdown

A sexual abuse charity said shocking new statistics which revealed a 21 per cent increase in sexual offences recorded in Leeds was the "tip of the iceberg".

By Daniel Sheridan
Monday, 2nd May 2022, 4:45 am

Read More

Read More
'We will not step back on this' vows Leeds Civic Trust chief as David Oluwale pl...

More sexual offences were recorded in Leeds over the last year, amid a record high number of such crimes across England and Wales.

West Yorkshire Police recorded 3,014 incidents of sexual offences in Leeds in the 12 months to December 2021, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

That was an increase of 21 per cent compared to the previous year.

At 3.8 crimes per 1,000 people, that was slightly higher than the rate across England and Wales, which stood at 3.1, the ONS found.

The ONS said the latest statistics may reflect a number of factors, including the “impact of high-profile incidents, media coverage and campaigns on people’s willingness to report incidents to the police, as well as a potential increase in the number of victims”.

It said the overall number of crimes recorded were lower during lockdowns but that there were “substantial increases" from April 2021, with certain offence types returning to or exceeding pre-pandemic levels.

Now, a spokesperson for Leeds-based Survivors West Yorkshire attributed the increase to "cultural change" and the "willingness to report by victims".

“The number of recorded victims of sexual crime in Leeds represent the tip of a cultural iceberg of such abuse across all sections of its community", the spokesperson said.

"The reasons we seeing increasing numbers are complex.

"However, the main drivers are cultural change and the willingness to report by victims.

"This regardless of the issues the CJS and our public health systems face in meeting their needs well."

The total number of offences in Leeds increased by 11 per cent, with police recording 100,679 crimes over the course of the year.

This puts the overall crime rate at 126.0 per 1,000 people, compared to a national average of 85.5.

Other crimes recorded in Leeds include a 16 per cent rise in violent offences and a small rise in thefts and criminal damage.

Public order offences also surged by 29 per cent in the same period, the ONS said.

Diana Fawcett, chief executive of the charity Victim Support, said she was "seriously concerned" by the latest figures.

She added: “Sadly, these figures reflect what we’re seeing – the number of sexual violence cases referred to us have increased by a third since before the pandemic.

“We also know that court delays for victims of sexual violence are at an all-time high – this is a worrying combination."

Around 6.1 million offences were recorded across England and Wales in the year to December, including computer fraud and computer misuse.

This was up 8 per cent from 5.6 million in 2020, but roughly the same number as recorded in the 12 months to March 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of sex crimes logged by police across the two nations reached another record high in 2021.

Police forces recorded 183,587 rapes and sexual offences in the year to December 2021 – up 22 per cent on 2020 (150,748), which was previously the highest annual figure to date.

Some 37 per cent of sexual offences recorded (67,125) were rapes – a 21% rise from 55,592 in the 12 months to December 2020.

There was also a rise in domestic-abuse related crime in 2021, and stalking and harassment.