CRIMES against women in Wiltshire, including rape and assault, has risen by more than a staggering 500 per cent over the past five years, according to new statistics.

Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request show offences reported to Wiltshire Police have risen from 438 in 2010/11 to 2,794 by 2014/15, which equates to a 537.8 per cent increase. The number of reported rapes on women over 16 has also risen dramatically, from 18 in 2010/11 to 134 in 2014/15, an increase of 644.4 per cent.

Detective Superintendent Deb Smith from Wiltshire Police said: “The rise in numbers is largely down to the increased number of women feeling more confident in coming forward; they feel their voice will be heard when reporting such crimes and will be supported by the police and partners.

“The rise in some crime statistics, like rape in this case, is also down to the way such crimes are now recorded, with robust scrutiny around this. We would like to reassure the public that Wiltshire Police take all reports of any sexual assault extremely seriously. ”

Other areas to see a major increase include the number of assaults occasioning actual bodily harm, which increased from 200 in 2010/11 to 1,127 in 2014/15 – an increase of 463.5 per cent.

There was also a rise in reports of harassment, from 21 in 2010/11 to 125 in 2014/15, a rise of 495.2 per cent.

A spokesman for Splitz, a Wiltshire-based charity who support victims of domestic abuse, said: “These figures show an increase in reported incidents, which is obviously concerning and is reflected in the growing demand we’re experiencing on our support services.

“However, we need to be cautious because these figures don’t necessarily mean more incidents are happening, but that more incidents are being reported.

“Splitz have noticed a marked increase in referrals to our services from the police.”

The breakdown of total crimes against women in Wiltshire for the last five years are 438 in 2010/11, 2,038 in 2011/12, 2,221 in 2012/13, 2,401 in 2013/14 and 2,794 in 2014/15.