The near 184,000 offences were up more than a fifth on the previous 12 months, with rape accounting for 37 percent of the figure, the Office for National Statistics revealed.
Campaigners say the spike in recorded offences highlights both an increasing willingness of victims to come forward – and “unprecedented levels of need” for specialist support services for victims.
The ONS crime figures published yesterday showed police-recorded sexual offences in the year to December 2021 stood at 183,587.
The number was up 22 per cent in 2020 (150,748) and up 13 per cent compared with 2019 (163,067).
In total, 37 per cent of sexual offences recorded (67,125) were rapes – a 21 per cent increase compared with 55,592 in the previous 12 months to December 2020.
The ONS said: “While violence and sexual offences recorded by the police have exceeded pre-pandemic levels, theft offences and robbery remain at a lower level despite
increases over the last nine months.” Jayne Butler, chief executive of Rape Crisis England & Wales, said: “The vast majority of rapes and sexual assaults never get reported, so it
is encouraging that more sexual violence and abuse victims and survivors are coming forward to seek support and justice.
“It is likely these figures reflect a gradual increase in survivors’ willingness to pursue criminal justice rather than an increase in the number of sexual offences committed”
Growing numbers of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse were also coming forward, she added.
She said there are currently 12,000 people on Rape Crisis waiting lists.
The ONS said the latest figures may reflect a “number of factors”, including the “impact of high-profile incidents, media coverage and campaigns on people’s willingness to report incidents to the police, as well as a potential increase in the number of victims”.