THE number of people being convicted of sex crimes has risen by 22 per cent in a year, new figures show.
Details from Scotland’s chief statistician show 1,053 people were convicted in 2013/14, up from 864 the previous year.
Overall, the number of people convicted of a crime in Scottish courts rose by four per cent – the first increase in seven years.
CONNECT WITH THE SCOTSMAN
• Subscribe to our daily newsletter (requires registration) and get the latest news, sport and business headlines delivered to your inbox every morning
The Scottish Government said the increase was due largely to a rise in convictions for motor vehicle offences.
The rise in sex crimes is being put down to a widening in the definition of rape, which came into force in December 2010, and more victims coming forward in light of high-profile abuse scandals such as the Jimmy Savile case.
Justice secretary Michael Matheson said: “Although the number of sexual crimes in Scotland is still unacceptably high, it is encouraging to see that the number of convictions for these crimes is up as we are seeing more victims coming forward and more cases reaching our courts.
“These types of cases can be harder to prove as they are often committed in private.
“However, victims should be assured that our law enforcement agencies and our courts are working hard to tackle these terrible crimes, secure the convictions of the guilty and ensure that they are punished.”
Today’s figures show that 96 per cent of those convicted of rape and 46 per cent of those convicted of sexual assault received a custodial sentence.
The average sentence for rape and attempted rape remains relatively unchanged at just over six and a half years – the longest sentence after murder.
However, the length of sentence for rape and attempted rape has is now seven months shorter than at its peak in 2007/08.
Mr Matheson added: “What today’s figures show is that our courts are ensuring that serious offenders receive lengthy prison sentences.
“Overall sentence lengths for serious crimes are up, sentence lengths for all crimes more generally are up and it is pleasing to see that the average sentence on conviction for handling an offensive weapon is now 374 days – up seven per cent in the past year – and three times higher than the average sentence for the same crime in 2004/05.”
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND IPHONE APPS