SEX crimes are on the rise in the Borders.

New figures published this week show that a total of 65 sexual crimes were committed in the region over the first three months of 2019/20 - a rise of more than a quarter from last year's 51 incidents.

During this April, May and June there were 12 rapes reported to Police Scotland.

There was also 16 sexual assaults and 11 instances of lewd and libidinous practices, which are usually towards children.

Police Chief Superintendent John McKenzie will present the findings to this week's meeting of the Police, Fire & Rescue and Safer Communities Board at Scottish Borders Council.

He said: "Rape and sexual crime is an area of focus in terms of providing confidence to report, undertaking professional investigations, providing victim support, pursuing perpetrators and managing offenders. 

“A quarter one comparison between last year and this year for sexual crime in the Scottish Borders shows the following a 27.5 percent increase in sexual crime. 

“The crime showing the largest increase for quarter is lewd and libidinous practices which has risen by 450 percent: two recorded in quarter one last year and 11 recorded in quarter one this year. 

“The investigation of sexual crime, alongside the management of offenders and the support of victims, is achieved through close partnership working. 

“The support offered to victims of sexual crime by partner agencies is essential and we continue to refer victims to these agencies. 

“We know that rape and sexual crime remains under reported and it is only through that work with partners can we help to give victims the confidence to report.”

Total crime across the region during the first three of months of 2019/20 has risen from 1,900 last year to 2,196.

Reports of violent crimes are up from 229 to 249, while reports of dishonesty have also risen from 339 to 443.

Chief Superintendent McKenzie added: "Tackling criminality that poses the greatest threat and risk is, and will always be, a priority for officers in the Scottish Borders."

The detailed report shows that instances of anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse and substance misuse have all reduced since last year.