Following the release of recorded crime statistics this week I asked a question during First Minister’s Questions on the worrying increase in sexual crimes.
According to the statistics, sexual crime has seen a year on year increase since 2008 and there are concerns that we are seeing more sexual crimes involving young people.
That is why I asked the First Minister if she will back Rape Crisis Scotland’s call for support for their prevention approach in schools.
Claire Baker (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab): The First Minister will be aware of the reported crime statistics that were published this week. Although they show a welcome overall drop in crime, there is a worrying increase in sexual crimes. That is partly because more victims are prepared to come forward, but there are growing concerns that there are more and more sexual crimes involving young people, particularly online, such as those that relate to the sharing of images and videos. I ask the First Minister to consider the call from Rape Crisis Scotland for more support for its sexual violence prevention project, so that it can reach every secondary school in the country.
Yes, we will consider that. We work closely with Rape Crisis Scotland. Claire Baker is absolutely right to say that we should in no way be complacent about the trend in sexual offences. Particularly in these days of social media and online activity, there is a real need to prioritise education and awareness.
I am sure that Claire Baker will recognise the point that I am about to make. There is a sense and a suspicion that, in years gone by, sexual offences were underreported. A lot of work has therefore gone into encouraging and supporting people to come forward and report sexual offences.
Claire Baker mentioned Rape Crisis Scotland. Earlier this week, when the statistics were published, the national co-ordinator of Rape Crisis Scotland said:
“It is important that people have confidence in reporting sexual crime. Changes introduced by Police Scotland in recent years have transformed how sexual crime is investigated in Scotland. It is likely that at least some of the increase in recorded sexual crime is due to people having more confidence to report what has happened to them.”
We should welcome that and we should continue to give people that confidence, but Claire Baker is absolutely right that we should not take our eye off the ball regarding some of the underlying trends. I will ensure that her specific suggestion is followed up.