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THE Jimmy Savile scandal has led to a spike in serious sexual offences after figures showed they had increased by more than 37 per cent in a year.

Essex Police said the “Savile effect” may have boosted the confidence of victims to report serious sexual crime.

It comes as 37.7 per cent more incidents across Essex were reported within a ten month period.

It amounts to 302 more offences between April 1, 2013, and December 31, 2013, compared to the previous year.

Essex Police has solved 0.5 per cent fewer incidents in the same period – 17.48 per cent.

A police spokesman said: “Serious sexual offences have always been some of the most complex crimes to investigate and the effect of the Jimmy Savile case, and similar high-profile reports, has led to a significant increase in people reporting offences which happened many weeks, if not years, ago.

“Of the rapes recorded by Essex Police so far in 2013/14, more than 40 per cent were reported more than 28 days after the offence.

“This can present significant difficulties to evidence gathering, but this is a challenge the force is rising to.” Over the past 18 months Essex Police have introduced specialist teams of detectives and are working more closely with the voluntary sector, specialist detective staff and the Crown Prosecution Service.

Across Essex, overall crime is down 1.2 per cent during the period.

However, there were 848 more shoplifting offences, equating to a 13.2 per cent spike, and 1,034 reports of “other violence” equalling a 6.8 per cent rise.

Serious violent crime also increased by 8.2 per cent, or 50 offences, while racially-aggravated crime has risen by 12.5 per cent, equalling 71 more offences.

Nick Alston, Essex’s Police and Crime Commissioner, has vowed to stamp out domestic abuse, as the force deals with an average of 80 incidents a day. He has awarded £580,000 of funding to support women’s refuges, victim support and training for medical staff.

He said: “The statistics are shocking.

“The front line is now all too often the front room.”

He chairs an Essex-wide domestic abuse strategy board so groups work together.