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New figures from the Scottish Government show record levels of sexual crime

Clear and urgent need to expand prevention work with young people.

· 26% increase in sexual crimes between 2013-14 and 2016-17.

· Rapes in Scotland have risen by 4% in the past year to 1,755, and attempted rapes by 5%.

The Scottish Government has today published statistics on Recorded Crime in Scotland for 2016-17. Although reported crime overall has gone down, sexual crimes continue to rise. Part of the reason for this is a dramatic rise in the number of offences in the ‘Other Sexual Offences’ category, which is one of four categories Police Scotland use to record sexual crimes, and is made up of a wide range of sexual crimes. ‘Other sexual crimes’ accounted for 40% of sexual crimes in 2016-17, ahead of ‘Sexual assault’ (almost 40%) and ‘Rape & attempted rape’ (17%).

A separate report focusing on ‘Other sexual crimes’ and highlighting the significant rise in these between 2013-14 and 2016-17 has also been published to accompany the broader report and to look at this area in more detail. The report highlights the high prevalence of sexual crime being experienced by young women under the age of 16.

Rape Crisis Scotland’s Chief Executive Sandy Brindley said:

‘The exponential increase in crimes such as communicating indecently and causing someone to view sexual activity or images is both significant and worrying. This is a wake-up call: now more than ever we can see the urgent need to challenge this behaviour by undertaking prevention work with young people across Scotland. In our work with young people in schools, they tell us of everyday sexual assault, harassment, and the sharing of intimate images without their consent . If we are serious about tackling the increasing levels of sexual crime being experienced by young people, we must ensure that every young person in Scotland has access to interventions* on consent and healthy relationships.”

“The Rape Crisis Scotland prevention programme currently reaches 13,000 young people a year. Young people tell us how keen they are to have a space to discuss these issues. Teachers tell us how concerned they are about these issues, particularly the sharing of sexual and intimate images.”

The three most common types of crimes within ‘Other sexual crimes’ are ‘Communicating indecently’, ‘Cause to view sexual activity or images’ and ‘Indecent photos of children’. 79% of the victims of ‘Other sexual crimes’ are female. The median age of victims of these crimes is 15, and almost 60% of victims in the ‘other sexual crime’ category are under 16. 95% of perpetrators of these crimes are male; their median age is 29 but 14% of perpetrators are under 16.

Over half of the crimes (51%) included in the ‘other sexual crimes’ category were cyber enabled (i.e. the internet was used to commit the crime). The mobile phone was the most common device used in communicating indecently and causing someone to view sexual images.

*External evaluation of the Rape Crisis Scotland Prevention Programme found that:

  • The programme increased knowledge about what the law says sexual violence is – 53% of young people agreed they knew what they law said prior to attending the workshops. This increased to 89% after attending.
  • Attitudes also changed significantly, with the data suggesting that the workshop sessions were successful in raising young people’s awareness of sexual violence, the importance of equality and consent in healthy relationships, and that the responsibility for sexual violence lies with perpetrators rather than victims.
  • 94% of young people think it is important that they have education on these issues
  • Young people overwhelmingly agreed that adults were right to be concerned about young people and relationships
  • Teachers are concerned about early sexualisation, abusive relationships and bullying on social media


For further information/enquiries please contact Sandy Brindley on 07764167501 or Eileen Maitland on 0141 331 4181.

Download this news release as a document below.