CONVICTIONS for rape, attempted rape and other sexual offences have increased in the last year, new figures have revealed.

Compared to the previous year, the statistics from the Scottish Government show a 43 per cent increase in rape and attempted rape convictions - with 152 recorded in 2018-19. But less than half of these cases brought to court result in a conviction, at a rate of 47 per cent.

The number of proceedings for these crimes rose by 32 per cent to 324 throughout the year. For sexual offences overall, there was a nine per cent increase in convictions to 1,215, driven by the rise in guilty verdicts for rape, attempted rape, possessing indecent images and "indecent communication".

A total of 89,733 people were "proceeded against" in Scottish criminal courts in 2018-19, a fall of six per cent from the previous year. This continues a general downward trend in court activity over the last decade.

Convictions for non-sexual violent crimes dropped by three per cent to 1,781, though robbery convictions fell sharply by 12 per cent to 361. Attempted murder and serious assault convictions were almost unchanged at 1,172.

The number of custodial sentences increased across most age groups for males as well as for women in their thirties.

The average length of a prison sentence was 11 months, excluding life sentences. This is a slight increase on the year before. The number of convictions related to domestic abuse fell by seven per cent to 9,210, the fourth consecutive year of decline.

Discussing domestic abuse convictions, the Scottish Government report said: "Levels have been declining since 2014-15 but remain eight per cent higher than when numbers were at their lowest of the last decade in 2010-11 (8,566 convictions).

"Their use has fallen at a similar rate this year to the overall number of convictions."

In relation to all criminal proceedings, five per cent of people were acquitted on a not guilty verdict and one per cent were acquitted on a not proven verdict.

Charges were found proven in 87 per cent of cases and proceedings were dropped in six per cent. There was a 27 per cent increase in recorded police warnings for low-level offences to 22,070.

Procurator fiscal warnings, when prosecutors choose not to take an accused person to court, decreased by 34 per cent to 6,211. The Criminal Proceedings in Scotland publication is based on data from Police Scotland and the Crown Office.