THE number of sexual offences reported in South Wales increased over the past year, new data has shown.

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, 300 sexual offences were reported to South Wales Police in the 12 months up to the end of March 2022.

This is an increase of 21 per cent compared to the previous year, although South Wales Police has said this is a trend since the pandemic hit.

Crime in general increased in the Vale, though only by two per cent.

However, there are far fewer crimes per person in the Vale of Glamorgan (58.5 per 1,000 people) compared to the average for England and Wales (89.3 per 1,000 people).

Violent crime has risen, from 2,996 for the year up to March 2021 to 3,170 for the year up to March 2022.

Stalking an harassment offences went up by eight per cent to 1,411.

However, the number of drug offences in the area dropped by 27 per cent during this period.

Offences concerning possession of a weapon also went down, as did theft, by eight per cent with 1,752 incidents reported.

There were 980 cases of criminal damage and arson, up four per cent, and 1,097 public order offences, up 17 per cent.

South Wales Police temporary assistant chief constable Jo Maal said: "The impact of the Covid pandemic on policing and society in general has been unprecedented since March 2020 and will continue to have an impact on the crime and disorder landscape.

"The re-opening of the night-time economy in South Wales resulted in an immediate increase in violent crime and public order offences and we are working with the Violence Reduction Unit and our partners to understand the patterns and hot spots to inform and engage with our communities, but we will take positive action where necessary.

"During the Covid period in 2020/2021, the traditional crimes of burglary, theft and shoplifting fell, and have not increased since the restrictions have been relaxed.

"However, we have seen a rise in other crime types such as stalking and harassment, cybercrime and rapes and serious sexual offences.

"In response to the increases in rapes and serious sexual offences we’ve introduced dedicated investigation teams to provide support to victims throughout the investigation.

"Our positive outcome rate stands at 7.1 per cent which is the fourth highest positive outcome rate in England and Wales.

"The force continues to work with its partners to provide support to vulnerable people and work with them to prevent, detect and reduce crime.

"Tackling violence in all its forms but particularly targeted at women and girls remains a priority for the force.

"Crime is only a part of what we deal with, mental health related incidents continuing  to represent a significant amount of demand and represents around 12 per cent of daily incident demand.  

"South Wales Police’s Neighbourhood Policing Strategy demonstrates a commitment to provide the community with neighbourhood teams that are visible and accessible and focussed on early intervention, prevention and problem solving to ensure that we provide the best possible service for the communities of South Wales.

"In 2021/22 the force recorded 330,495 crimes and made 31,132 arrests, with our positive outcome rate for overall crime standing at 16.5 per cent, which places the force second nationally.

"Our positive outcome rate for violence with injury stands at 23.5 per cent, which places the force as the highest ranked force in England and Wales."