Reports of sexual offences in Chorley have increased by 75 per cent in the past five years.
New figures, obtained by the Chorley Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act, show 100 sexual offences were reported to the police in 2013.
This was a 75.4 per cent increase from the 57 incidents reported in 2009.
Police believe the rise could be because victims are becoming more willing to report incidents, particularly for historical offences from victims spurred on by the Jimmy Savile investigation.
Det Insp Geoff Hurst, from Lancashire Constabulary, said: “We want victims to feel confident they will be treated with compassion and that we will do everything possible to trace those responsible and take action against them.
“The increase in sex offences in Chorley can partly be attributed to the Savile effect, which has been seen nationally, particularly historical reports, but it is also due to an increase in confidence in
The Savile theory was supported by Sue James, from Trust House Lancashire, which opens next month to provide support to victims of rape and sexual abuse.
She said: “I think, with all the publicity there has been lately around sexual abuse and some quite high-profile cases, there is more general awareness out there that it’s possible, even with historical abuse, for it to be reported.”
Det Insp Hurst said steps had been taken to further support victims of sexual offences.
The number of officers trained in sexual offences investigations has increased, contact management staff are trained in dealing with victims when the incident is reported, and all reports are attended by someone specially-trained.
But he said some victims are still reluctant to report offences to the police.
He said: “Most of the reports of rape that we receive are committed by someone that the victim knows in some way – incidents of stranger rape are very rare.
“Investigations of rape usually identify the offender as being a family member, a friend, someone who has groomed them before committing the attack or someone they have met on a night out.
“All of these factors can often make it hard for a victim to want to report the crime.”
The figures obtained by the Chorley Guardian show there were 57 reports of sexual offences in 2009, 75 in 2010, 72 in 2011, 78 in 2012, and 100 in 2013.
Overall, reports of crime in Chorley have fallen by nine per cent in the past five years, from 5,871 in 2009 to 5,337 in 2013.
The biggest drops have been in thefts from people (43 per cent fall from 65 to 37), bicycle thefts (36 per cent fall from 149 to 94), and criminal damage and arson (33 per cent fall from 1,409 to 938).
But there have been increases in other crimes, including thefts from homes (19 per cent rise from 116 to 139), shoplifting (seven per cent rise from 425 to 458) and non-domestic burglaries (six per cent rise from 378 to 403).
Det Insp Hurst added: “It’s reassuring to see that overall crime has continued to fall in Chorley, which means that fewer people are becoming victims.”