Rise in sexual offences in Dacorum
But there was an overall drop in recorded crime
More sexual offences were recorded in Dacorum over the last year, despite an overall drop in recorded crime.
Hertfordshire Constabulary recorded 261 incidents of sexual offences in Dacorum in the 12 months to June, according to the Office for National Statistics.
That was an increase of 3 per cent compared to the previous year.
At 1.7 crimes per 1,000 people, that was slightly lower than the rate across England and Wales, which stood at 2.8.
Chief Inspector Jason Keane, head of policing in Dacorum, said: “We have seen an increase in reports across a number of crime types this year, when compared to the same period the previous year.
"This was largely due to crimes decreasing dramatically during the lockdowns and restrictions associated with the pandemic in 2020.
"As a result reports of sexual offences, for example, have increased again this year as people returned to meeting up and socialising with others.
“We are working to protect people from sexual assaults. We have specialist teams that investigate serious sexual offences, domestic abuse and offences against children and young people.
"They deal with reports sensitively and support is available from Herts SARC which people can access independently of police.
"We also work throughout the year to educate people about consent and related themes in our on-going public awareness campaign, Operation Advisory. This will launch again soon for the festive party season.”
Around 5.8 million offences were recorded across England and Wales in the year to June – in line with the previous year – though there was a 3 per cent decrease to 4.9 million offences when excluding fraud and computer misuse.
Nick Stripe, head of crime statistics at the ONS, said the figures showed overall reductions in the reporting and recording of many crime types during periods of lockdown.
However, reports of fraud and hacking continued to rise – something the ONS previously suggested was due to criminals taking advantage of behavioural changes during the pandemic, while many took to online shopping amid lockdowns when there were restrictions on movement.
The total number of offences in Dacorum fell by 11 per cent, with police recording 8,865 crimes over the course of the year.
This puts the overall crime rate at 57.0 per 1,000 people, compared to a national average of 81.3.
Other crimes recorded in Dacorum included:
> 3,059 violent offences, a decrease of 8 per cent
> 3,284 theft offences, down 16 per cent
> 897 incidents of criminal damage and arson, down 11 per cent
> 75 possession of weapons such as firearms or knives, up four per cent
> 683 public order offences, up 5 per cent
The ONS figures show 61,158 rapes were recorded across England and Wales in the 12 months to June – the highest recorded annual figure to date, and up by 10 per cent from 55,779 the year before.
The second-highest number of sexual offences was also recorded over the period (164,763) – an 8 per cent increase on the previous year.
The ONS urged caution when interpreting the data.
Mr Stripe added: “The rise could be due to an increase in victim reporting as lockdowns eased, an increase in the number of victims, or to an increase in victims’ willingness to report incidents, potentially as a result of high-profile cases and campaigns in recent times.”
Jeffrey DeMarco, assistant director at the charity Victim Support, said: “Much more needs to be done urgently to tackle both these offences and to ensure that those who come forward and report them are able to access justice.”