Sexual offences in Scotland have hit record levels and almost doubled over the past decade, according to new figures.
A sharp rise in sexual assaults and a slew of new testimonies relating to historic offences drove a 15% increase in reports to Police Scotland over the 2021/22 period.
Around a third of those dealt with by officers involved a person under the age of 18, while just over 1,700 related to those aged 15 and below.
However, the overall figure has risen by 96% since the 2012/13 data to the highest level since records began in their current form more than 50 years ago.
Instances of rape and attempted rape rose by 9%, while total of 5,359 sexual assaults were recorded during the period, an increase of 29% – the Recorded Crime in Scotland report revealed.
Threats to disclose or disclosure of intimate images, which was enshrined in law in 2017, rose by 17% while reports of communicating indecently with those aged over 16 experienced an increase of 38%.
The report acknowledged that an “increase in sexual cyber-crimes” had contributed to a “long-term upward trend” in sexual offences.
Meanwhile, around 1,000 offences were reported to have taken place prior to the implementation of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 in December 2010.
The figures come while the overall number of criminal offences reported to Police Scotland over the 12 month period fell by 4%.
The 286,464 crimes investigated by officers was less than half of the peak recorded in 1991 and a reduction in around 13,000 on the previous year.
Common assault remained the most prevalent crime across the country, followed by theft – both of which increased in the first year of recording since the majority of Covid restrictions were lifted.
Murder and culpable homicide and death by dangerous driving fell by 15% and 13% respectively while drug possession and supply dropped by 22% each.
More than 3,000 crimes relating breaches of laws enforced by the coronavirus pandemic were also recorded during the year.
Meanwhile, slavery or forced labour crimes rose above 100 for the first time in three years while crimes related to “drugging” shot up from 18 to more than 440 after an increase in reports of drinks being spiked.