Sexual crime rates in Fife are the highest in Scotland as the number reported increased by more than a quarter in a year.
A total of 1,527 sexual crimes were recorded in the Kingdom between April 2021 and March this year, compared to 1,195 in the year prior – a rise of nearly 28%.
Across Scotland, the total number of such offences increased by nearly 14% over the same period to 15,049, according to the latest Police Scotland performance review figures.
It means about 10% of all reported sexual crimes in Scotland happened in Fife.
The number of recorded rapes in the region increased year-on-year from 190 to 262 and the number of indecent and sexual assaults rose from 385 to 565.
Other sexual crimes such as indecent communication and the disclosure or threat of disclosing intimate images also saw an increase.
The latest police figures show for every 10,000 people in Fife, 40.9 sexual crimes are recorded.
Dundee has the second highest sexual crime rate in the country with 38.9 per 10,000, though the number of reported sexual crimes there dropped year-on-year from 644 to 581.
Across all of Scotland’s local authority areas, only Glasgow recorded more sexual crimes than Fife, with 2,048 (32.3 per 10,000 people).
Victims have ‘more confidence’ to report
Sexual offending rates in Fife are the highest in Scotland but detection rates – the proportion of crimes being solved – are also among the highest in the country.
Detectives leading the Kingdom’s rape and historic abuse investigation units told The Courier in February a factor in the high reporting rate is their proactive work in profiling known sex offenders and contacting other potential victims.
They also said strong publicity around a string of major convictions has led to many survivors – either those abused by the same person or someone else – feeling more confident they will be believed and coming forward in numbers.
Building strong relationships with other agencies, such as Women’s Aid and the Kirkcaldy-based Fife Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (FRASAC), has also been critical in helping survivors through the difficult process of reporting and reliving their horrific experiences.
Chief Superintendent Derek McEwan, Fife’s divisional commander, said a “growing culture” of female detectives working in their public protection departments is also helping catch those responsible.
He also reassured that Fife division will continue to be “relentless” in its pursuit of anyone involved in sexual offending.
Following the release of the latest figures this month, Chief Sup McEwan said: “We have seen an increase in sexual crimes.
“However, this can be attributed to the increased confidence of victims to report offences to our officers and to those we work in partnership with.”
‘Caution’ over figures
Sandy Brindley, of Rape Crisis Scotland, said: “We would always caution against reading too much into statistics like these because what we know about rape and sexual assault is that it remains largely underreported.
“What that means is that these statistics don’t tell the whole story, and also that more reports don’t necessarily mean that more crimes are happening.
“Sometimes it can mean that there are better systems and support in place for people coming forward, and that is positive.
“There are many barriers to reporting that still exist, and what is incredibly important is that all survivors of sexual violence have access to specialist support and advocacy at the point of need.
“Our helpline is open everyday from 5pm – midnight to anyone affected by sexual violence and though we know it can be really hard to reach out, it is so important for everyone affected by sexual violence to know that they are not alone”.