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Thorley Stephenson SSC is an Edinburgh based law firm providing a wide range of legal services in family, child and criminal court cases throughout Scotland. Tel: 0131 556 9599
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Extra funding given to tackle rise in online sexual offences

The Scottish Government has awarded additional funding of a total of £1.1 million towards the prosecution service in an effort to combat court delays following a rise in the number of reported sexual offences in Scotland in recent years, with sexual offences now comprising “approximately 75% of the Crown Office’s workload”. The new funds provided are designed to go towards the improvement of communication between complainers and the Crown Court as well as to prevent any delays in cases going to court.

This follows a sharp increase in the number of sexual offences cases reported in Scotland since 2010. Between 2016 and 2017, there were 1,878 reports of rape or attempted rape made, a 4% increase in the number of cases from the previous year. It is believed that this increase is partly due to a rise in online sexual offences, which mostly consists of teenagers sending explicit messages or images online.

A study conducted by the Scottish Government last year has shown that there has been a rise in the crime of “communicating indecently” from 605 between 2013 and 2014 to 1,166 – an increase of 92.7%. Similarly, the same study reveals that there was also a surge in the offence of “cause to view sexual activity or images” had risen by 3.5 times that of the original amount during the same period of time from 229 to 1,030.

Data from the study has also revealed that these two crimes now make up half of what is classified as “Other Sexual Offences”. Moreover, more than 80% of victims tend to be female whereas approximately 95% of offenders are male. Typically, the age of victims of online cyber offences is predominantly under 16 (three quarters), with an average age of 14 compared to an average age of 23 for the offences that were not cyber-related, where only a third of victims were under 16. A difference in age is also seen in offenders, who are often four years older than their victims when offences are carried out online and are 13 years older than the victim when offences are committed offline.

Alongside the rise in online sexual offences, it is also believed that other factors have contributed to the rise in sexual offences, with last year seeing more than 10,800 cases being reported – an all-time high since records began in 1971. Other factors include:

  • A rise in victims coming forward several years after their ordeal following media coverage of historic cases, which authorities and campaigners believe has given them courage to speak out.
  • Changes to the law in 2010 which widened the definition of rape and saw other offences like voyeurism and indecent communication being newly classified as sexual offences.
  • An increase in prostitution crimes in Aberdeen (76-105) and Glasgow (137-158) in 2017 despite the total number of prostitution-related crimes being halved during the past decade.

However, in spite of the rise of reported sexual offences, it is important to note that the overall crime rate has fallen. Latest figures indicate that the total crime has dropped by 3% from 246,243 to 238,651, the lowest since records began.

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Whether you are looking for expert legal guidance on cyber-crime, sexual offences, or any other criminal offence, speak with one of our specialist criminal lawyers today.

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