26 September 2023

Police find gender assaults rising

Start the conversation

There was a sharp and unexpected jump in sexual assaults reported to NSW Police in March according to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research’s (BOCSAR) latest quarterly crime statistics.

BOCSAR said its report, Why did sexual assault reports spike in March 2021?, found the 61 per cent increase in sexual assault incidents reported to NSW Police, compared with the monthly average over the previous year, was due to a temporary rise in victim willingness to formally report sexual violence.

“The timing of the increase closely aligns with saturation media coverage of numerous sexual assault allegations in late February and March 2021,” BOCSAR said.

“This triggered a wide-spread community conversation about sexual violence and consent of a scale not previously seen,” it said.

“Sexual assaults involving victims aged 13 to 20 years accounted for two thirds of the increase and the vast majority involved female victims.”

BOCSAR said the rise in sexual assault reports was as much to do with an increase in recent contemporary assaults as it was related to reports of historical offences.

The Bureau said that in the 24 months to March two of the 17 major crime categories showed upward trends, sexual assault (up 14.4 per cent) and domestic violence related assault (up 1.1 per cent), while 10 others trended downwards and the remaining five were stable.

“The large decreases reported in many offences represent falls in crime associated with the response to the pandemic in 2020,” it said.

“Since April 2020 violent offending has returned to pre-pandemic levels, but many property offences, including car theft, break and enter and retail theft are still below pre-pandemic level,” BOCSAR said.

Executive Director of BOCSAR, Jackie Fitzgerald said the spike in reported sexual assault incidents was remarkable, and preliminary April data suggested reports had since come back down.

“Typically only around 10 per cent or 15 per cent of adult sexual assault victims report to police,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

“The March 2021 increase shows that, under the right conditions, more victims will come forward; more now needs to be done to make sure that victims who reach out are appropriately supported,” she said.

In response to BOCSAR’s findings, the Department of Communities and Justice sent a message to victims of sexual assault saying that “dedicated police and frontline support services are ready and willing to take your call.”

BOCSAR’s 10-page Report on the spike can be accessed at this PS News link and information on how to report sexual offences to the NSW Police at this link.

If this story raises concern for you, help and counselling is available from1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732), NSW Rape Crisis (1800 424 017), and Kids Helpline (1800 551 800).

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.