Crime statistics from the Central Statistics Office and An Garda Síochana show that the instances of reported rape and sexual crime has more than doubled in the Laois/Offaly Garda Division over a ten year period from 2007 to 2017.
In all of 2016, there were 78 recorded cases of such crimes in the division, compared to just 33 in 2007.
The worrying trend rose gradually during this time. The crime data from the CSO reveals that there were 29 recorded sexual crimes in Laois/Offaly in 2008, and as few as 24, or two per month, in 2009.
In 2010, the number jumped to 46, while it continued to rise to 59 in 2011 and 74 in 2012. The one-month average between 2007 and 2009 was 29, while that figure stood at 65 in the most recent three years available (2014-2016).
That means between there was an average of two sexual crimes reported in the division every day between those years.
Between 2013 and 2016, the number of reported sexual crimes dipped slightly, standing at 72 in 2013, 56 in 2014 and 62 in 2015, but as shown above, the chronological average has risen over the ten years analysed.
However, the ten-year high was reached in 2016 when the number of such crimes reported to Gardaí in Laois/Offaly rocketed to 78, including 28 over a three month period from July-September.
There were nearly as many rapes and sexual crimes reported over those three months as there was in the whole 12 months of 2008 (29).
The 2016 figures are the latest available, and they also reveal that there were 21 reports of this type of serious crime in the last three months of the year.
Commenting on these figures, the Garda Crime Prevention Officer for Laois/Offaly, Graham Kavanagh, suggested that legislative changes and people "feeling ready" to report historical crimes of this nature may explain the rise.
"I would say the vast majority of our cases are historical where people now feel ready to come forward," he remarked to the Offaly Express.
If you have been affected by the content in this report, you can contact the Rape Crisis Centre on 1800 778 888.
The number of recorded instances of rape or sexual crimes in Laois/Offaly 2007-2016:
2007 - 33
2008 - 29
2009 - 24
2010 - 46
2011 - 59
2012 - 74
2013 - 72
2014 - 56
2015 - 62
2016 - 78
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