Sexual assault crimes increased by almost 12 per cent in West Dunbartonshire between April 2023 and February this year according to the latest figures from Police Scotland.

The latest figures, presented to West Dunbartonshire councillors, show that sexual crimes rose by 11.8 per cent during the last financial year with about 84 per cent of rape incidents taking place in a private place with 88 per cent committed by a person known to the victim.

Around 78 per cent of sexual assaults also occurred in a private place with 90 per cent committed by people known to victims.

During a housing and communities committee questions were raised about why the figures seemed to be rising.

Councillor Michelle McGinty said: “I wanted to look at one area in particular and that’s sexual assault where we are seeing that there has been quite a significant increase of nearly 12 per cent. 

“As someone who lives in the area, I know there have been a lot of high-profile cases that have gone to court, and we’ve found that people have been convicted of this crime. 

“We know that it is quite a hard crime to convict people of because most of it is done in a private place. 

“I just wanted to point that out and hope that is because we are now taking these cases to court, people are being convicted and we are giving people some assurance that we are taking this very seriously and they have some confidence in the police.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson informed members that the organisation was looking into starting a “peer lead” campaign to discuss what behaviour is acceptable.

They said: “In regards to sexual crime, it is something we look at, to see if it is a bit of a reflection of confidence in the police in terms of people coming forward.

“Last year we did a review into sexual crime.

“We got in touch with the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) who have been working in partnership with Police Scotland, and a couple of other areas in West Dunbartonshire, looking at starting a peer lead campaign.

“This would be a campaign led by young people to talk about what is acceptable consensual sexual behaviour within our relationships and within their peer groups.

“We are hoping to start this within this new financial year and those peer campaigns are then taken forward into the community with messages tailored from those young people so the message gets across rather than be dictated to by police officers.

“We are hoping to start this in the next couple of months.”