VIOLENT crime and sex assaults have risen in Merseyside according to new official figures.

In the 12 months to September 2015, the force saw an increase of 6.4% in overall recorded crime compared to the national average of 6%

Sex offences reported to forces in England and Wales rose by 26,606 in the year  - an increase of 36% on the previous 12 months, the Office for National Statistics found.

The ONS report said the 43 forces in England and Wales recorded 33,431 rapes and 66,178 other sexual offences, a total of 99,609 that was the highest since the National Crime Recording Standard was introduced 13 years ago. 

It said the rise was "likely to be due to an improvement in recording by the police and an increase in the willingness of victims to come forward and report to the police," with previous recent increases attributed to the profile of the Yewtree paedophile probe.

Merseyside's assistant chief constable Ngaire Waine said: "The force is facing a variety of on-going challenges and the impact of the cuts on our ability to continue to provide an effective policing service to our communities will become ever more challenging.

"However, we will continue to do the best we can and we will focus our resources on protecting the most vulnerable members of our communities.

"Although crime in Merseyside has gone up roughly in line with the national average, we have achieved reductions in burglaries in commercial properties, robberies and thefts.

"We are pleased to see this reduction.

"There have been significant increases in the levels of recorded violent crime, but I would like to reassure our communities that we have looked carefully at this and don’t believe our streets are any less safe."

He continued: "The increases in reporting of domestic violence and sexual offences mirror a national trend.

"We welcome the fact that more victims of these historically under-reported, hidden crimes now have more confidence and trust in the police and want to tell us what has happened to them as it is only through them doing so that we can take action against their attackers.

"I want every victim of domestic abuse to contact us, so that we can take action to protect them.

"We will continue to target our proactive resources in tackling the issues that matter to communities, while delivering an excellent policing service to the people of Merseyside.

"We continue to listen to the concerns of our communities, and are advancing our fight against serious and organised crime with the Matrix Serious and Organised Crime team. 

"We have always stood firm in our promise to tackle these issues and this will continue.

"This is combined with the dedication of our officers, who respond to incidents with courage, courtesy and professionalism, which we hope will build upon strong public confidence and keep our communities safe.

"We recognise that we cannot be complacent and will continue to act with openness, honesty and integrity and strive to find the most efficient and cost effective way to deliver policing in Merseyside."

Recorded crime in Merseyside for year ending September 2015:

Violence against the person: 22,190 - an increase of 49% on previous year.

Homicide: 19 - no percentage increase on previous year.

Violence with injury: 11,139 - A 39% increase on same period in 2014

Violence without injury - A rise of 61% on previous year

Sexual offences: 2,230 - A 34% increase on previous year

Robbery: 1,112 - A 9% drop

Theft offences: 45,352 - Fall of 1%

Burglary: 11,587 - A 3% fall on previous year

Domestic burglary: 6,540 - Up by 1% on same period in 2014

Non-domestic burglary: 5,047 - Fell by 8%

Vehicle offences: 9,427 - Up 9% on previous year

Theft from the person: 9,191 - A 17% drop on previous year

Bicycle theft: 1,978 - Down 3% on previous year

Shoplifting: 9,683 - Down by 5%

All other theft offences: 10,871 - Up 4%

Criminal damage and arson: 16,741

Drug offences: 6,998

Possession of weapon offences: 697

Public order offences: 4,493