THE NUMBER of sexual offences and stalking and harassment offences in the South Wales Police region have risen in the past year, despite an overall stabilisation of crimes, according to new figures.

The latest Office for National Statistics for crime in England and Wales shows a 1.9 per cent rise in sexual offences recorded in the South Wales Police area in the 12 months leading up to March 2020, compared to the previous year.

This was coupled with a 16.7 per cent rise in stalking and harassment offences - from 12,677 in the year ending March 2019 to 14,854 in the year ending March 2020.

However, the ONS said stalking and harassment figures may have been affected by improvements in the way police record crime, which could explain the large increase.

In the South Wales Police region, the number of offences recorded remained at roughly the same level, falling from 111,604 in the year up to March 2019 to 111,551 in the year to March 2020.

Theft and burglary offences – including residential burglary (a 13.5 per cent fall), burglary (a 9.6 per cent fall), shoplifting (an eight per cent fall) and bicycle thefts (an 8.8 per cent fall) – were the types of offences that saw the highest fall in cases recorded compared to the previous year’s figures.

The ONS said crime figures were largely unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic, as the period covered was mostly pre-lockdown.

The National Police Chiefs' Council says its own provisional figures, which cover the four weeks to July 5, show crime has fallen by 14 per cent compared to the same period last year.

NPCC lead for crime, Chief Constable Andy Cooke, said: “The vast majority of the public continue to follow the rules in place to limit the spread of the virus, and as a result, we have seen sustained reductions in crime over the course of the lockdown period.

“It is no surprise that as more people are able to move around freely, we will begin to see movement towards previous levels. However, this is a gradual change.

“Please report to us if you have been a victim of rape, assault or domestic abuse – wherever or whenever it happened.

“We will do all we can to investigate and there are many excellent organisations who can provide support and advice.”

South Wales Police were contacted for comment.