New police figures have revealed that the number of sexual offences in York have reached their highest level in five years, despite a fall in the number of almost all other crimes.
There has been a 43 per cent rise in the past year, which has amounted to an increase of more than one offence a week.
Hull Road was one of the most heavily affected council ward areas in York, and has seen a doubled increase in crime over the past year.
The increase has not necessarily been seen in a negative light by local police inspectors and councillors. Hull Road councillor, Roger Piece, attributed the increase to more women “reporting the crime and no longer putting up with this type of behaviour.”
Chief Inspector Dave Hannon, head of operations at York Police, said: “People feel safer and happier to report the crime to the police… They feel they can come forward and be treated seriously and sensitively.”
However, there have been concerns that the increase may be due to a higher percentage of younger men drinking heavily. It is argued that under alcoholic influence they then be more likely to assault women. Councillor Piece said: “The second issue is that I worry about the increased drinking by younger men which removes the social control so they are more likely to assault women.”
Concerns have also been raised about the apparent shortage of support services for victims across the country, especially as York’s Rape Crisis Centre was closed over two years ago and has not yet been replaced.
A spokeswoman for the Women’s Resource Centre in London said: “Various organisations that support women who have experienced violence are under threat – not just Rape Crisis Centres, but all sorts of organisations… They are not receiving enough funding support.”
The only other crime to show an increase was fraud and forgeries, which rose from 340 in 2008 to 359 in 2009, showing an increase of 8.8 per cent. Overall in North Yorkshire, the number of recorded crimes fell by 9.5 per cent from 49,149 to 44,469.