SEXUAL offences have increased more than any other violent crime in Southampton, data has shown.

Hampshire Constabulary recorded 1,222 incidents of sexual offences in Southampton in the 12 months to December, according to the Office for National Statistics.

That was an increase of 29 per cent compared to the previous year - more than any other crime in the city.

At 4.8 crimes per 1,000 people in the city, that was slightly higher than the rate across England and Wales, which stood at 3.1.

Southampton charity Yellowdoor, which supports victims of sexual assault and abuse, a number of factors could have led to the increase.

These include offences during lockdown and media coverage of high-profile cases.

They said that offences occurring in peoples’ homes have increased or been exacerbated during lockdown, but people had fewer opportunities to report and perhaps felt that reporting would make their situation worse.

As lockdown restrictions eased in 2021, people started to feel more able to report the sexual offences that they had been experiencing, and seek help.

Increased media coverage about high-profile cases such as the murder of Sarah Everard has given people the courage to speak out about their experiences of sexual violence and abuse, and seek the help that they needed.

Yellowdoor said increasing confidence of victims locally to report crimes, and access the support needed, might also be a reason for the increase.

A spokesperson said: "At Yellow Door we have seen a significant increase in the number of referrals we receive.

"We are receiving 128 per cent more referrals than before the start of the pandemic, and this trend shows no sign of abating.

"Yellow Door’s STAR project delivers relationships education in Southampton’s secondary schools, supporting young people to understand consent, boundaries, and what a healthy relationship is.

"Our goal is to give young people the tools and understanding they need to stay safe, and build respectful relationships now and in the future."

Other crimes recorded in Southampton included violent offences rising by 23 per cent, public order offences by 35 per cent, theft offences by one per cent, criminal damage and arson by five per cent and possession of weapons such as firearms or knives by 17 per cent.

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