The number of sex crimes recorded in West Dunbartonshire has increased by 82 percent over the last decade.
Shocking figures published last week have shown the rise from 116 incidents to 211, with police saying that the increased number is partly down to increased victim confidence in reporting sexual crimes – with many of the cases covering historical abuse.
In Argyll and Bute, which includes Helensburgh and Cardross, sex crimes increased from 131 to 217 (a rise of 66 percent) – with reports of rape and attempted rape rising by 200 percent (from 15 to 45) over that period.
Reports of serious assaults and attempted murder in West Dunbartonshire have also increased by a quarter over the last decade - spiking from 59 to 74.
The number of cases of fraud has risen significantly too, with a 150 percent rise in Argyll and Bute (from 70 to 175) and an increase of 86 percent in West Dunbartonshire (135 to 251).
Hitting out at the statistics, Labour MSP for Dumbarton Jackie Baillie said: “The SNP government must urgently investigate what has led to this significant rise in sexual crime in our local communities. The figures which have been released are incredibly worrying.
“Behind each of these statistics is a victim who has suffered as a result and they deserve to see action being taken to prevent more people going through the same ordeal that they have.
“Sex crimes have soared over the last decade and not nearly enough progress has been made in trying to prevent these from happening in the first place.
“The SNP-Green government must leave no stone unturned when keeping Scots safe and ensuring our justice system can both prevent and prosecute these abhorrent crimes.”
Responding, Chief Superintendent Lynn Ratcliff, Divisional Commander for Police Scotland’s Argyll and West Dunbartonshire division, said: “The number of crimes recorded continues to rise, as does the demand on policing.
“Although we have seen an increase in the number of sexual crimes, this is an area where we continue to work to improve the way we serve communities.
“Our Violence Against Women and Girls strategy underlines our commitment to improve how sexual violence and domestic abuse is tackled.
“Over recent years we have made significant efforts to ensure appropriate engagement with survivor groups across the Violence Against Women and Girls network.
“We have undertaken significant work to improve our response, particularly in respect of investigative structures and processes. It is reasonable to assess that this has influenced increased confidence in reporting sexual crimes, and this will include recent and non-recent offending.
“Our officers also continue to work hard to prevent and reduce violent crime and the impact it has on our communities.
“The level of fraud remains high and a significant challenge. The vast majority of crimes have an online element associated with them and our Policing in a Digital World Programme will ensure we continue to protect communities and businesses in the digital world.
“Statistics tell part of a story, however they do not reflect the vast amount of vital work being carried out every day in all our communities to prevent and detect crime, nor the interventions by our officers, staff and key partners to protect the most vulnerable people.”
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “Policing is and will continue to be a priority.
“Recorded crime is also at one of the lowest levels seen since 1974, down 42 percent since 2006-07.
“We will continue to work closely with Police Scotland to ensure we continue to have a safe, protected and resilient Scotland.”