New figures from Police Scotland show that between 1 April, 2014, and 31 March, 2015, there was a 4.7 per cent fall in crime recorded across all categories.
But sexual crime rose by 9.3 per cent, with 1,797 rapes – 40 per cent of them historical – recorded during the year.
There was also a 1.8 per cent increase in the number of domestic abuse incidents reported, while stalking cases rose by 42 per cent from 879 in 2013-14 to 1,251 in 2014-15.
Crimes of violence, dishonesty – including housebreaking and theft – and antisocial behaviour all fell over the past 12 months.
There were 55 murders recorded in 2014-15, compared with 57 the previous year.
Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said: “Over the past two years, we have significantly enhanced our whole approach to investigating the most serious of crimes including murder, rape and domestic abuse.
“Through the introduction of Major Investigation Teams, Rape and Domestic Abuse Taskforces and divisional investigation units, we have seen national specialist support being provided to local policing teams to ensure our response is as effective and responsive as possible.”
He added: “Our focus is on keeping people safe. From the most violent crime which happens less frequently, to higher volume crime such as housebreaking and incidents of disorder and antisocial behaviour which impact on community wellbeing, Police Scotland is committed to both the prevention and detection of crime.” According to the police figures, the number of rape cases rose by 5.3 per cent, up from 1,706 the previous year.
The number of sexual assaults rose 6.5 per cent from 3,500 to 3,727.
Two-fifths of the rapes reported were historical, meaning they were reported a year or more after they were alleged to have taken place.
Yesterday’s figures also showed that the number of housebreakings recorded in Edinburgh has risen by 20 per cent in a year, including an 11.6 per cent in domestic break-ins.
Police Scotland has been criticised for disbanding a dedicated housebreaking unit which existed under Lothian and Borders Police.