Sex crimes reported to police at highest level since current records began
The number of rapes and other sex crimes reported to police are at their highest level since current records began, new figures show.
Sex offences reported to forces in England and Wales rose by 26,606 in the year to September 2015, an increase of 36% on the previous 12 months, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found.
Its report also found that the murder rate rose 14% in the same period, a spike of 71 deaths which included a high of 75 in June.
As well as sexual offences, police forces recorded a 4% increase in gun crimes, only the second time firearms offences have risen over a 12-month period since 2008. Knife crimes also rose by 9%.
Overall, crime reported to police last year increased by 6% over 2014 to 4.3 million offences, the biggest year-on-year jump since 2001-2002. The ONS attributed it to "a greater proportion of reports of crime being recorded in the last year, following improved compliance with national recording standards by police forces".
Jack Dromey, Labour's shadow police minister, said: "The Tories have slashed police officers by 17,000 and broke their promise to the public to protect frontline officer numbers. Now we see the biggest increase in recorded crime in a decade.
"The first duty of any Government is the safety and security of our citizens. By overseeing the sharpest decline in police numbers anywhere in the EU, the Tories are letting the British people down."
The ONS report said the 43 forces in England and Wales recorded 33,431 rapes and 66,178 other sexual offences, a total of 99,609 that was the highest since the National Crime Recording Standard was introduced 13 years ago. Recorded separately, rape reports rose 39% year-on-year and other sex crimes 35%. The rate of sexual offences has doubled in the past year, from one in every 1,000 people to two in every 1,000.
The ONS said the rise was "likely to be due to an improvement in recording by the police and an increase in the willingness of victims to come forward and report to the police", with previous recent increases attributed to the profile of the Yewtree paedophile probe.
It added: "Analysis of records from the Home Office Data Hub indicates that both current and historical offences continued to rise in the year ending September 2015 compared with the previous year. However, the major volume contribution to this increase comes from current offences."
London's Metropolitan Police accounted for almost a quarter of the increase in knife crime offences. There was also rise of more than a quarter (26%) in recorded rapes involving a knife or sharp instrument, while possession of a knife or sharp instrument rose by 15%.
Banking and card fraud was up 8% year on year, while total fraud incidents were up 5%.
The fraud rate per 1,000 people has crept up slightly, from 10 to 11.
Better recording of crimes was also thought to have affected reporting of violent crimes. The ONS said offences of violence against the person rose by 185,666 to 885,440, up 27% over the year previously. At the same time the Crime Survey for England and Wales "showed no significant change compared with the previous year's survey".
Police Minister Mike Penning said tackling all violent crime was a priority, adding: "The Office for National Statistics is clear that this rise reflects improvements in recording practice and a willingness of victims to come forward - this is something we welcome. We are also providing much greater transparency on what happens to crimes once they have been reported to the police."
Gwent Chief Constable Jeff Farrar, crime reporting lead for the National Police Chiefs' Council, said: "We believe that the increase in knife crime is about more than changes in recording and that the number of people carrying knives is on the rise. This is a worrying development after many years of reducing knife crime and chief officers are working together to determine how best to respond."