Police forces in England and Wales have recorded the highest number of rapes and sexual offences over a year, official figures released on Thursday show.
There were 63,136 rapes recorded in the year to September, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), up 13% from the previous period (56,119).
This was the highest recorded annual figure to date and included 17,419 offences between July and September – the highest quarterly figure.
The highest number of sexual offences was also recorded in the 12 months to September (170,973), a 12% increase compared with 152,620 in the same period the previous year. This is driven by “noticeable increases since April 2021”, the ONS said.
Rape accounted for 37% of all sexual offences recorded by police.
The ONS said the latest figures may reflect a “number of factors”, including the “impact of high-profile incidents, media coverage and campaigns on people’s willingness to report incidents to the police, as well as a potential increase in the number of victims”, and it urged caution when interpreting the data.
The figures cover the months after the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard in March.
She was attacked and killed by a Metropolitan police officer, Wayne Couzens, prompting a national debate about sexual violence, the safety of women and the response from government, police and prosecutors.
A statement from the ONS said: “The overall trend is also currently difficult to disentangle from the impact of lockdowns. Offences recorded by the police dropped noticeably during the spring 2020 lockdown before rebounding to previous levels in the July to September 2020 quarter.
“The winter 2020 to 2021 lockdowns saw a smaller reduction in the number of sexual offences recorded by the police but a greater level of increase in these offences in the subsequent quarters.”