THE number of recorded sex crimes in East Lothian rose by 53 per cent last year.

Police say investigations into historic cases which have come to light, high-profile cases, and an increase in the confidence of victims to contact them have all contributed to the rise.

Between April 2018 and March this year, police recorded 203 sex offences, compared to 133 in the previous 12 months.

A report presented to East Lothian Council’s Police, Fire and Community Safety Scrutiny Committee also revealed that the detection rate for offenders had risen to 65 per cent – up more than 16 per cent on the previous year, with the force’s detection rate for rape crimes at almost 97 per cent over the last year.

Nearly half of the crimes committed occurred before 2018, with Police Scotland pointing to “a number of high-profile cases which have been highlighted in local and national media”.

East Lothian councillor and former county MP Fiona O’Donnell described the rise in the number of recorded sex crimes as “deeply concerning”.

She said: “Whatever the underlying factors for the significant increase in sex crimes in East Lothian, these figures are deeply concerning.

“The historic crimes point to how difficult it can be to report this kind of crime.

“I think that education is a big part of reducing the incidence of sex crimes, and supporting victims to come forward.

“It is important to have age-appropriate conversations with young people about what consent means and how to keep themselves safe.”

Inspector Andrew Harborow, Police Scotland’s Deputy Area Commander for East Lothian, said: “Tackling all forms of sexual crime is a top priority to local officers and communities.

“Every report is treated with the utmost seriousness, and victims are provided with professional support from highly trained specialist officers.

“We are committed to ensuring all sexual crimes are investigated in a professional and structured manner, often resulting in additional crimes being identified not originally reported to the police.

“In addition, Police Scotland has worked tremendously hard with partner agencies to ensure victims of sexual crime, whether recent or non-recent, have the confidence to report and engage with officers.

“These factors have contributed to an increase in reporting and is welcomed by Police Scotland as it demonstrates increased confidence in the police and justice system.

“However, this crime type remains under reported and Police Scotland will continue to work collaboratively to ensure victims have the confidence to engage.

“This includes working with East Lothian Council and voluntary organisations to prevent sexual violence and encourage victims to report crimes to us.”

The annual crime report for East Lothian noted a slight increase in violent crime, which had risen from 81 recorded in 2017/18 to 90 over the last year.

The increase was mainly put down to robberies, which nearly doubled from 12 recorded crimes to 23.

Police said of those reported in the last year, 21 had been solved and revealed that two thirds of them took place on “public space”, with four from shops and two from takeaways, two during bus journeys and one sexually motivated incident among those listed.

Anti-social behaviour saw a fall in public reports of 2.7 per cent, from 5,419 calls to police the previous year to 5,273 last year.

And the number of racially aggravated crimes recorded fell by two-thirds, from 24 to eight.

Police said there had been a 100 per cent detection rate on all racially aggravated crimes last year and preventative work carried out in schools.

They said: “Education visits have been ongoing throughout the year and it is thought that this has helped to drive the decrease.

“East Lothian’s two dedicated youth community officers have spent a large amount of time within the primary and secondary schools across the county delivering the inputs to pupils of all ages.

“These focused on hate crime, drugs education, firework safety and internet/social media safety.”