The number of sexual crimes recorded in Aberdeenshire has risen by 142% in the past decade, new data has revealed.
New statistics from the National Records of Scotland (NRS) show the total number recorded by police rose from 258 in 2010-11 to 549 in 2019-20 – an increase of 113%.
Police in the area also recorded 92 rapes and attempted rapes in 2019-20, up from 38 at the start of the decade.
The number of crimes classified as “other sexual crimes” – which includes communicating indecently, sexual exposure, public indecency and taking, possessing and distributing indecent photos of children – increased by 294% over the decade, from 77 cases to 303.
However, the figures also show that crime in Aberdeenshire as a whole fell by 16% between 2010-11 and 2019-20.
There were 61% fewer cases of housebreaking in the area recorded by police between 2010-11 and 2019-20 – from 656 in a year down to 259.
Thefts of a motor vehicle also plummeted by 68%, from 265 at the start of the decade to 84.
Domestic abuse statistics have been included in the NRS release for the first time, after the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 was enacted in April 2019. Aberdeenshire recorded 134 cases in the past year.
Due to this new inclusion, the total number of non-sexual crimes of violence has increased by 71% in the city since 2018-19 – though other crimes that fall into that category saw less significant changes.
There were five homicides in the area in 2019-20, an increase from two the previous year.
There has been a significant drop in motor vehicle offences in Aberdeenshire since they were first grouped by the NRS in 2013-14 – from 8,899 down to 6,031.
The number of seat belt offences recorded by police fell from 474 in 2010-11 to just 46 last year.
In Scotland as a whole, total recorded crime is down by 24% between 2010-11 and 2019-20, though the number of recorded sexual crimes has doubled in that same time.
The NRS states that at least 40% of the sexual crimes recorded by the police in 2019-20 related to a victim under the age of 18 – a proportion similar to the previous year.
Regarding the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown on the statistics, the NRS said: “This had a significant impact on daily living which also affected the number of crimes and offences recorded, to varying degrees.
“As these developments only cover the final few days of the 2019-20 reporting year, they are unlikely to have had a significant effect on the crime statistics presented in this bulletin.
“However they are likely to have a more significant impact on the 2020-21 figures.”
Superintendent Kate Stephen said: “The North East remains a safe place to live and work.
“We are aware that sexual crime has historically been under-reported and the rise in reports is a positive sign. This can also be attributed to the trust we have built and maintained with victims who are without doubt more confident in coming forward.
“Our officers have worked very hard, with partners, to identify victims of sexual crime proactively, including complex, online and non-recent offending.
“Protecting vulnerable people is a priority for the North East and our close relationship with partners in areas such as child and adult protection and public protection has seen an increase in reporting.
“We also regularly run campaigns and hold events with communities on social media to highlight the preventative work we do and encourage reporting.
“Our national, specialist resources support local policing to investigate thoroughly all allegations of criminality whether in the public, private or virtual space.”