Violence and sexual offences have become Sheffield’s most common crimes

Written by Qi Ding

Sexual offences recorded by police in Sheffield have risen to the highest level in the past 12 months, with violent and sexual offences the most common crime in the city.

The figures, including rape and domestic violence, totalled 19,082 in December 2021, an 11% increase from 2020. The surge in recorded sex crimes came despite a drop in overall crime levels, driven by COVID-19 restrictions.

Over the same period, of all sex crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales, 37%, or 67,125 cases, were rapes. That is a 21% increase from 55,592 in the year ending December 2020. The number of other sex crimes increased by 22% to 116,462 from 95,156 last year, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Sheffield Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (SRASAC) works to support recovery from the emotional and psychological distress caused by trauma from rape, sexual violence or sexual abuse/exploitation whenever it happens in a person’s life.

A spokesperson SRASAC said: “It is likely these figures reflect a gradual increase in survivors’ willingness to pursue criminal justice rather than an increase in the number of sexual offences being committed. The figures also reflect the growing number of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse who are now coming forward.

“We still need to see better responses in both criminal justice and natural justice for survivors of sexual violence and abuse. That includes charge and conviction rates increasing so that women and girls are not going through the difficulty of reporting without a chance of justice.

“As well as better treatment for women and girls who do a report so that they feel informed and supported throughout the process. It also includes access to support for all survivors of sexual violence and abuse, regardless of whether or not they report.”

Lauren Poultney, Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police, said in the Crime Plan for 2022: “Women and girls in South Yorkshire have the right to feel safe in public spaces and their own homes. Children and young people should also feel safe in schools and educational settings.

Lauren Poultney, Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police

She added that South Yorkshire Police has been granted Home Office funding through the Safer Streets Fund and would be used to improve safety in public spaces that prevents violence against women and girls.

Chief Constable Poultney said the police’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) will work with partners to influence attitudinal and societal change, especially around attitudes of men and boys in South Yorkshire to women and girls, their notions of masculinity and who they look to as role models.

Dr Alan Billings, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire, said: “Stalking and harassment has shown no increase in South Yorkshire during this period while elsewhere in England and Wales, they increased by 21%. We need to understand whether that is because this crime is being managed better in SY or because people are less confident about approaching the police.”

According to an Ipsos poll published on April 3, 61% of Britons think police should prioritise rape and other sex crimes, while violent crimes account for 50%.

Less than half (42%) think police take violence against women and girls seriously in the UK. Only 29% believe the police are effective in preventing violence against women.

Hannah Shrimpton, Associate Director at Ipsos, said: “Rape and sexual offences are the crime type that most Britons want to see police prioritising, yet there are concerns around the effectiveness of police response to violence against women and girls and a lack of confidence that the police take it seriously – particularly among women.”

Written by Qi Ding

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