- Part of:
- Law and order
Expert group to examine sexual crime.
Experts from across justice, education and health will be invited to contribute to fresh action to prevent sexual crime, particularly offences involving young people.
The announcement follows new research commissioned by Justice Secretary Michael Matheson which suggests that around half of the growth in all recorded sexual crimes between 2013-14 and 2016-17 has been due to growth in sexual ‘cyber-crime’.
The findings, which follow a recent summit hosted by the Solicitor General on educating young people on sexual crimes, also indicate that the average age of both perpetrators and victims is substantially lower when the internet is used as a means to commit such offences.
The study has been published on the same day as the Recorded Crime in Scotland 2016/17 statistics which show:
- Crimes recorded by the police in Scotland fell by 3% from 246,243 to 238,651, the lowest level of recorded crime since 1974
- The number of non-sexual violent crimes was 6% higher last year compared to 2015-16, though still 49% lower than 2006-07
- Crimes of handling offensive weapons are at their second lowest level since 1984
- Crimes of dishonesty, crimes of fire-raising, vandalism etc and other crimes (mostly drug related or crimes against public justice) all decreased from 2015/16 levels.
Mr Matheson said:
“While the continued fall in recorded crime to historically low levels is encouraging, I remain focused on ensuring everyone feels safe in their community. That demands a relentless focus on where crimes persist, whether online or in public or domestic spaces, to identify where best to strengthen the collective efforts of policing, public services and communities themselves.
“The sexual crimes research makes clear that more work is required to understand why particularly young males are behaving in this way and to prevent sexual offending, building on the recent Education Summit held by the Solicitor General.
“While we have taken considerable steps in this area, such as our recent ‘intimate images’ campaign, the national action plan on internet safety and our ‘Equally Safe’ strategy, I am bringing together an expert group to identify further steps needed to better-tackle and ultimately prevent such offending.
“Through our strong and sustained focus on prevention, violent crime is now almost half the level it was a decade ago. However, I’m determined to build on this, ensuring further progress in future years. That’s why I have asked for more detailed analysis into how violence, and the factors behind it, are changing and what is needed to secure further reductions in violence in future, with fewer victims and still safer communities.”
Solicitor General Alison Di Rollo QC said:
“Too many children and young people are coming into contact with our justice system as a result of sexual offending, and we know that technology has an increasingly significant part to play. I convened the Education Summit last month to emphasise the need to protect our young people by educating them about their rights and responsibilities under the criminal law.
“I am delighted that this new expert group will now build on the success of the summit, and acting on the key messages we heard, identify and take the next steps to inform and protect our young people. COPFS will provide our experience and expertise to the group and together better tackle and prevent sexual offending among young people.”
More information on the intimate images campaign can be found here.