Sexual assault charges skyrocket in Barcelona

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sexual assault

BARCELONA – In 2021, 790 complaints of sexual assault and abuse were registered in Barcelona. That is an increase of 36% year on year. Authorities say that “80% of cases go unreported”.

Sexual crimes are on the rise in the city of Barcelona. In 2021, authorities registered 790 complaints of assault and sexual abuse in the capital. That is an increase of 36% from the year of the pandemic and 13% more than in 2019.

80% of cases of sexual assault go unreported

Despite the strong growth, these data cannot serve as a reference. This phenomenon hides a “black number” because more than 80% of cases are not reported. This explained Albert Batlle, the deputy mayor for Security and Prevention of Barcelona on Friday, February 4. Before that, he was a member of the city’s Security Council. Here the most important safety indicators in the city are analysed.

Sexual assault often in context of domestic violence

Furthermore, official data show that in 30% of cases the sexually transgressive behaviour takes place in a context of gender violence within a relationship. According to experts, this causes trauma to the victim. In many cases, he does not report these events because of “shame or even guilt”.

To counter these figures, the City Guard of Barcelona and the Mossos d’Esquadra are working on a protocol. With this, they want to improve the care and protection of victims of domestic violence. They also want to put in place more preventive measures.

Read also: New law against sexual violence officially approved in Spain

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Marta Fernández, the commissioner at the Mossos d’Esquadra and responsible for Barcelona, ​​wants to work more decisively on the prevention of sexual transgressive behaviour. To this end, agreements must be made with the leisure sectors and the catering industry. She wants to patrol more, in plainclothes and uniform, at specific times and in areas where sexual offenses are more common. Fernández stressed that 10% of the victims of sexual assault were in a situation of vulnerability due to the use of alcohol, drugs, or the administration of narcotics without their consent.

10% more criminal offenses than in 2020

About crime in general, Barcelona ends the year 2021 with a decrease of 35% compared to the year before the pandemic (2019). They do increase compared to the year of the coronavirus (2020), with 10% more criminal offenses.

Theft on one

Theft is the most reported crime in Barcelona. Yet the number in this regard is also well below the pre-pandemic years. This concerns 42% of the total number of registered crimes in the city. An important reason for this decrease is that there are far fewer tourists in the city due to the pandemic. They are normally the main victims of theft.

Theft combined with violence

City officials are also very concerned about the violent robberies. According to Batlle, more thefts now end in violent robberies. For example, two weeks ago, an 85-year-old woman nearly had her arm ripped off a $25,000 watch given to her by her late husband. The woman needed 22 stitches.

In 2021, the police dismantled three criminal groups engaged in theft combined with violence in shops. The groups were highly specialised with great mobility throughout the Catalan territory.

According to Batlle, the city council has been fighting through judicial institutions for some time to change the Criminal Code to be able to punish multiple recidivism more severely.

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