100,000 sex crimes reported to police as homicides rise by 11%
The number of sex crimes reported to police has passed 100,000 in a year for the first time, while homicides jumped by more than a tenth, official figures have revealed.
Forces logged 103,614 sexual offences in 2015 - a rise of 29% on the previous year and nearly double the level seen five years ago.
The total included 34,741 rapes and 68,873 other sex crimes, which were the highest recorded since the year ending March 2003.
Improvements in recording practices are thought to be behind the trend, as well as a greater willingness of victims to come forward following high-profile investigations after the Jimmy Savile scandal.
Police data revealed an 11% jump in homicides - which include murder, manslaughter, infanticide and corporate manslaughter - with the number rising by 56 to 573 last year.
Figures indicate that the rate of homicide has fallen by more than a third between the years ending March 2005 and December 2015, from 16 homicides per million of population to 10 per million.
There was a 27% rise in offences of violence against the person recorded, with every force seeing an increase. Improvements in recording processes were cited as the main driver of this trend.
Crime data is presented by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in two indexes - offences reported to and recorded by police forces, and the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) in which people are questioned about their experiences of crime.
Overall, the survey found there were about 6.4 million incidents of crime against households and residents aged 16 and over - a 7% fall compared with the previous year.
Police-recorded crime rose by 7% to 4.4 million offences. The ONS said most of this rise is thought to be owing to improved crime recording by the police.
Estimated levels of violence drawn from the CSEW were at a similar level to the previous year, with 1.3 million incidents. The data appears to chime with suggestions that recent sharp drops in violent crime have begun to level off.
The ONS report said: " Estimates of violent crime from the CSEW have shown large falls since peak levels in the mid-1990s, but the latest year's survey has shown little change compared with the previous year. The apparent 2% fall was not statistically significant."
The number of violent incidents has decreased by around two thirds since peaking in 1995, according to the survey.
It was also revealed that police recorded offences involving a knife or sharp instrument increased by 9% to 28,008.
Lucy Hastings, of charity Victim Support (VS), said: "While the apparent increase in the reporting and better recording of crime is to be welcomed, these figures remain a serious cause for concern."
Steve White, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: "While better reporting by forces can account for some of the increase in figures, we do not want the public to have a rose-tinted view of the seriousness of crime that is occurring."
Shadow policing minister Jack Dromey said: "With the thin blue line stretched ever thinner, police recorded crime is rising and some of the most serious crimes have soared to the highest levels in years."
However, policing minister Mike Penning said: "Police reform is working and crime is falling - it is now down by well over a quarter since June 2010, according to the independent Crime Survey for England and Wales.
"People, communities and property across the country are safer as a result. The survey shows that violence has fallen by 25% over the same period - meaning we are now seeing 427,000 fewer violent crimes a year."
He added: "Every violent crime is a significant concern and we are working with retailers to crack down on underage sales of knives, introducing new laws to ban zombie knives and increasing funding for violence against women and girls' services to £80 million."
Jeff Farrar, of the National Police Chiefs' Council, said: "It is encouraging to see a further reduction of overall crime in these latest crime figures, the lowest since the survey began in 1981."