Jun 29 2012 by Johnathon Menzies, Stirling Observer Friday
THE number of sexual offences recorded by Central Scotland Police in 2011-12 increased by 20 per cent to almost 500 compared to the previous year, according to figures released this week.
Scottish Government statistics show the sexual offences rise, to a total of 492 cases within the force area, comes despite an overall drop in recorded crime locally by four per cent, to 16,257 incidents, on the 2010-11 figure.
The report shows that, following a slight increase last year, the number of crimes recorded by the local constabulary is now below the level recorded in 2009-10, when 16,402 crimes were officially listed.
In a bid to rationalise the spike in sexual offences, authors of the Holyrood-backed document state the 20 per cent increase has been primarily driven by an 85 per cent rise – to 187 recorded incidents – in “other sexual offences”.
This category includes sickening acts such as: some examples of sexually coercive conduct; certain sexual offences involving 13-15 year old children; the taking, distribution and possession of indecent photos of children; incest; what’s described as “unnatural crimes”; public indecency and sexual exposure.
Part of the increase has been attributed to the fact that, from 2011-12 onwards, the offence described in the report as “taking, distribution and possession etc” of indecent photos of children has been reclassified as a sexual offence.
Other crimes that fall under the sexual offences bracket in policing circles are rape and attempted rape, sexual assault and offences associated with prostitution.
Elsewhere in the report, decreases in recorded crime figures for Central Scotland Police were posted in four of the five groups used to compile the dossier.
The decrease in recorded crime locally is off-set by a six per cent increase in incidents recorded as “offences” by police, compiled separately for the purposes of the report, which reached 36,589 in 2011-12.
This increase in offences, the document states, was driven by a 14 per cent rise in breaches of the peace – to 4007 recorded incidents – and the same increase in vehicle defect offences, to 6891 incidents.
Acts enshrined in the term “breach of the peace” include: threatening or abusive behaviour; stalking and criminal behaviour that comes under the compass of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act 2012.
Central Scotland Police performed “above or the same as” the Scottish average when it came to “clearing-up” incidents in 2011-12. The term “cleared-up” is used by police when there’s enough evidence to justify the consideration of criminal proceedings in a given case.
The total number of crimes and offences recorded across the country’s eight constabulary’s was 544,033, a three per cent increase on the previous year, with the clear-up rate at 49 per cent.
l More information on the Scottish Government’s crime statistics, including reaction, will be featured in Wednesday’s Observer.