AN INCREASE of reported domestic abuse crimes and sexual offences in Worthing last year is a positive thing, say Sussex Police.
Figures released by West Sussex County Council as part of its West Sussex Life publication, show that The number of sexual offences increased across West Sussex as a whole as well as in Adur and Worthing.
There were 699 recorded sexual offences across the county, an increase of 6.9 per cent from the previous year.
Last year there were 117 reported cases in Worthing, an increase from 106 the previous year compared to 128 cases in 2010/11.
Adur showed a greater increase, with 64 recorded crimes this year compared to 37 last year and 45 in 2010/11.
There has also been a slight rise in domestic abuse crimes, with 461 recorded crimes in Worthing in the last year compared to 461 in 2011/12. There were 512 recorded domestic abuse cases in 2010/11.
Adur showed a decrease, from 230 reported crimes last year to 217 crimes this year. The figures mark a drop for the third consecutive year.
During 2012/13 there were a total of 3,236 domestic abuse crimes recorded by police in West Sussex, which includes Gatwick Airport.
This equates to 7.6 per cent of all crimes in the county during this time period.
Hayley Bisofsky works for Life Centre, a charity that supports survivors of rape and sexual abuse and offers a national helpline and a counselling team based in Sussex.
She said: “It is really encouraging how the media has reported crimes relating to Jimmy Saville in that the victim is rightly not being blamed which has encouraged more people to come forward and feel more confident that they will be believed.
“Because of the shock factor of the revelations it has caused people to understand that perpetrators can be people who are trusted, whether it be household names or upstanding and respected members of the community.
“We hope that from these figures we will see a higher level of prosecution but also more people asking for support to start regaining some control of their lives.”
Other local services include WORTH, which provides support to victims of domestic abuse through hospitals in West Sussex,
It had 824 new clients during 2012/13, from a wide variety of sources including self-referrals, which accounted for 30.7 per cent of all clients engaged and referrals from Sussex Police, which accounted for 27.8 per cent of clients.
District Commander for Adur and Worthing, Chief Inspector Jo Banks, said: “We see these figures as positive, that people are feeling confident enough to report these incidents to us. It can often take these people some time to build up the confidence to report it and this is a very brave step for them to take. It is very important that when they do take that step, they are provided with the right services, such as Worth, to support them.
“In July 2013, Sussex Police became the first police force in England to be awarded White Ribbon status, gaining recognition for our commitment to support the aims of the White Ribbon Campaign in supporting everyone who is experiencing domestic abuse.