REPORTED incidents of sexual offences in Wigan have risen by more than 20 per cent with officials attributing the rise to the “Yewtree effect.”
Overall, levels of crime came down in the borough by almost 10 per cent but the number of sexual offences increased from 181 to 220.
Victims have been “encouraged” to come forward as a result of recent high profile investigations - such as the allegations levelled against Jimmy Savile - according to Wigan’s Police and Crime Commissioner.
Tony Lloyd told the Evening Post: “Wigan has seen an increase in the number of sexual offences, obviously this is concerning and also suggests that the horrific high-profile cases of sexual abuse has had an effect.
“These victims have made a brave first step and we need to make sure they are at the heart of what we do and we are supported throughout the criminal justice process.”
The statistics, from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), showed a decrease in crime across Greater Manchester of around 10 per cent.
In Wigan, the vast majority of crimes reduced for the year ending June 2013, including significant decreases in arrests for robbery, possession of offensive weapons, domestic burglary, criminal damage and fraud compared to the previous year.
Reported incidents of sexual offences increased nine per cent nationwide and by 15 per cent in Greater Manchester.
Ch Supt Shaun Donnellan of Wigan Police said: “Wigan is not the only area to have experienced an increase in sexual offences being recorded, but we need to add some context.
“These figures coincide with the introduction of Serious Sexual Offences Units which have helped bring about more consistent crime recording practices across Greater Manchester
“We also accept that high-profile investigations into Jimmy Savile and other celebrities has led to a nationwide increase in the number of people having the confidence to report historic abuse to the police.
“Broadly speaking however, it is clear that these figures say more about how better equipped GMP is in supporting victims through the investigative process. Wigan is still a safe place to live work or visit.”
The reduction of crime in Wigan is in line with a steady decline over the last five years.
Mr Lloyd added: “It’s good news for the communities of Wigan that crime continues to fall. This is thanks to the commitment of GMP officers and staff and the unique partnership model we have in the borough of local people working with the police, Wigan Council and other agencies to build safer communities.”
Operation Yewtree, the name of the police investigation launched to investigate numerous allegations against Savile, has been ongoing since last year and has expanded to include individuals both linked to, or independent, of the TV presenter.
Katie Russell of charity Rape Crisis England and Wales said the sexual offence numbers suggest victims are more confident of the treatment they will receive if they come forward.
She said: “Through our frontline experience of providing specialist services to women and girls affected by sexual violence, we know that among the many and complex reasons for under-reporting is a fear of not being believed.
“The increased media and public interest in sexual violence and survivors’ stories in the wake of the Jimmy Savile revelations does seem to have prompted some survivors to come forward, often for the first time after years or even decades, and this must at least partly reflect an increased confidence in the treatment they can expect to receive from the criminal justice system.”