Sex crime reports up 11% in Northern Ireland after Jimmy Savile case
The number of sex crimes reported in Northern Ireland soared by 11% over the past year – with suggestions the Jimmy Savile scandal has encouraged victims here to speak out.
Figures released by police showed an average of more than six sex offences were reported to the PSNI every day.
In the past 12 months, officers have received 2,274 such complaints. These included 549 reports of rape, up from 531 last year.
During the same period, from July 2013, there was a decrease in the number of alleged sex offenders taken to court.
A leading charity for victims of sex abuse said it was impossible to tell if the statistics pointed to an increase in attacks or more people reporting assaults.
But Nexus NI chief executive Pam Hunter revealed more victims were speaking out after the scandal involving disgraced TV presenter Savile.
"When Savile hit the media, our calls spiked by 40% and have stayed at that since," she said.
"So there are definitely more people coming forward for help and support.
"It's more prevalent in our society than we're aware. It's being going on for years and years and we are only beginning to scratch the surface."
The opening of a new facility in Antrim late last year may also have led to the increase in reports, according to Ms Hunter.
The Sexual Assault Referral Centre, a joint initiative between the health service and police, provides child and adult victims with care in the aftermath of a sexual assault, rape or childhood sexual abuse.
The PSNI figures showed the percentage of cases where police action was taken against someone accused of sex offences fell in the past year from 23% to 17.5%.
Yesterday's report also revealed that violent crimes had increased, rising by more than 6% compared to the previous year.
Reports of drugs offences, too, rose considerably in the same period, from 4,483 to 4,893.
Reports of overall crime increased slightly, by 1.6%. Robberies fell by 10.7%, alongside decreases in burglaries, criminal damage and public order offences.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that a major report into the sexual exploitation and abuse of young people in Northern Ireland will be published in the coming weeks.
A police investigation was launched earlier this year into the exploitation of 24 young people by up to 100 adults.
Investigators believe most of the victims were abused when they went missing from care homes. Some are said to have been plied with alcohol and drugs.