There was a record number of sexual offences recorded by Gloucestershire Constabulary last year, new figures show.

Charity Victim Support said it is "seriously concerned" sexual offences have reached a national record high for the second year in a row and called on the government to prioritise tackling the violence.

Office for National Statistics figures show 2,186 sexual offences were recorded by Gloucestershire Constabulary in the year to December 2022 – a record high since equivalent records began in the year to September 2007.

It was up from 1,745 sexual offences recorded the 12 months prior and up from 1,260 offences in the year to March 2020, before the pandemic.

Across England and Wales, there were 189,700 sexual offences recorded last year – a 19% increase from the year prior to Covid-19 restrictions and the highest level recorded.

Diana Fawcett, chief executive of the charity Victim Support, said: "We are seriously concerned that sexual offences have reached a record high for the second year in a row."

Ms Fawcett added these figures reflect what the charity is seeing as cases referred to them have increased by a third compared to before the pandemic.

"Tackling this insidious violence needs to be the government’s top priority, alongside ensuring all victims are treated with respect and given support to recover," she added.

The figures also show over 697,500 stalking and harassment offences were recorded across forces last year. This was relatively in line with the year before, but a 44% increase compared to the pre-pandemic year ending March 2020.

In Gloucestershire, stalking and harassment offences rose from 3,932 pre-coronavirus to 10,594 last year.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the figures "show the grim truth that crime is going up and prosecutions and community penalties are going down".

She claimed under a Conservative government "more criminals are getting away with it and more victims are being let down".

The ONS said the latest statistics may reflect a number of factors, including the "impact of high-profile incidents, media coverage and campaigns on people’s willingness to report incidents to the police, as well as a potential increase in the number of victims".

It added: "While violence and sexual offences recorded by the police have exceeded pre-pandemic levels, theft offences and robbery remain at a lower level despite increases over the last nine months."

The total number of police recorded crime in England and Wales in 2022 exceeded pre-coronavirus pandemic levels with 6.6 million crimes recorded. It was 11% higher than the year ending March 2020.

Gloucestershire Constabulary recorded 57,758 crimes in 2022 – up from 40,676 before the pandemic.