A RISE in recorded sexual assaults and rapes may be down to publicity surrounding historic sex crimes by celebrities such as Jimmy Savile, according to Scotland's Justice Secretary.

High-profile investigations into celebrities such as BBC presenters Savile and Stuart Hall emerged yesterday as possible reasons behind the rise in recorded sex crimes last year.

New figures released by the Scottish Government showed virtually all other categories of reported crime had fallen except sexual offences, which increased 5%. Rapes rose 16%.

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Kenny MacAskill said that, while statistics showed Scotland's communities were "becoming safer places to live, with recorded crime falling for the sixth year in a row to its lowest level for 39 years", the rise in sexual offences was concerning.

Mr MacAskill said there may be a Savile link. He added: "There's no doubt high-profile historic matters resulted in people stepping forward. That's a good thing.

"We wish the figures were going downwards but at the moment I think we are seeing justice being done as it should be. Whether it was perpetrated last night or decades ago, those who did it should be brought to justice.

"If that means a rise in figures at the moment, so be it. But equally we have improved how we investigate and we have improved how we deal with victims."

Sandy Brindley of Rape Crisis Scotland said: "It's a significant increase in rape and that's worrying.

"However, it's almost impossible to tell how much this is about increased confidence and publicity from high-profile cases, and how much it means there has been a rise in attacks."

Police Scotland Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick said of the link: "It may be one of the factors in the rise in reported cases. Seeing other victims come forward gives people confidence they will be dealt with sensitively."

There was some indication in the breakdown of sex offences of more reporting of historic cases. The figures include statistics recording attacks committed prior to December 2010. In 2009/10 these peaked at 1685 cases, falling the next year to 1275 and to 288 in 2011/12. In 2012/13, when these might have been expected to fall further, they rose to 316 cases, or by 10%.

Overall, crimes recorded fell by 13% between 2011/12 and 2012/13.

Police logged 273,053 crimes last year, down from 314,188 in 2011/12, the lowest total since 1974.

Non-sexual violent crimes fell 21%, at 7530. This included a 25% drop in homicides to 91 last year.

Attempted murders and serious assaults were down 22% to 3643, while robberies fell 18% to 1832.

Crimes of dishonesty fell 12% to 135,899, while fireraising, vandalism and similar crimes were down 21% to 59,479.

There were 7693 sexual offences, up 332 on 2011/12, including 1372 rapes, up from 1183. Handling an offensive weapon fell 29% to 4015, down from 5631 in 2011/12.

Drug crimes were down 1% from 35,157 to 34,688.