Ballarat surge in sexual offences linked to Royal Commission

A surge in reports of historical sex abuse offences may be behind Ballarat recording one of the highest numbers of sexual offences in the state in 2016, data shows.

Crime Statistics Agency data released today showed a 26.2 per cent rise in the number of sexual offences in Ballarat during 2016 compared to statewide 9.1 per cent increase.

Statewide Victoria Police recorded 12,956 sexual offences in 2016 with an offence rate of 214 offences per 100,000 people. 

In five years, the number of sexual offences increased by 45 per cent, up from 8936 offences in 2012. 

“Changes to the numbers and rates of sexual offences recorded may in part be affected by increases in reporting of historical incidents of sexual offences, following the establishment of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2013,” the Crime Statistics Agency said in a statement. 

In 2016 Carolyn Worth, manager of the South-Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault, told Fairfax Media the increased awareness and publicity resulting from various government inquiries was leading to more reporting from victims.

"The silence has been broken," she said. 

"People are more likely to come forward. There is less stigma around being a victim of sexual assault.”

CHECK OUT HOW BALLARAT COMPARED STATEWIDE HERE

More to come.