SEX offences have surged by 40 per cent in South Ayrshire  but all other crime has plunged according to the latest police figures.

The hike in sexual crime cases to 74 stems from perverts targeting people on the Internet, historical cases and more victims coming forward.

A total number of 3,208 different types of crimes were recorded between April 1 and July 31 this year.

The overall crime figure is down by 5.7 per cent.

The number of people hurt in car crashes has also fallen dramatically by 35 per cent. The reduction is credited to police work to improve road safety.

Police officers also searched for 124 missing people during the four month period.

The statistics emerged from a South Ayrshire Council Partnerships Panel meeting on Wednesday.

Local Area Commander for South Ayrshire Gary I`Anson said he is “delighted” that “overall disorder, common assault and violent crime figures, to name a few, are down.”

He said: “Sexual crime has increased in part due to the increased confidence in victims reporting but also as a result of a number of historical enquires and increased online offences.”

Councillor Siobhian Brown who attended the meeting at County Buildings in Ayr  said: “There is a huge increase in sexual crime.

"Internet crime is driving up the figures and now it is being reported more. It is a new type of crime.”

Throughout the four months, 372 cases of common assault were recorded - down by 3.4 per cent.

Domestic abuse fell by four per cent standing at 192 cases.

The violent crime total stands at 412 cases - down by 1.4 per cent. There were 1,978 disorder complaints - down by 8.9 per cent.

Partnership Panel chairman Hugh Hunter said: “I am impressed overall with the reduction in crime. I look forward to the new locality policing plan rolling out.”

Chief Inspector I`Anson added: “We work closely with partners across South Ayrshire to achieve these results.

"We have a multi-agency community safety partnership, alcohol and drugs partnership and a dedicated preventions first team supporting our most deprived areas in South Ayrshire.

"The results from this performance summary tell me that these partnerships are working and we will continue to develop and build on these relationships to provide our community with the best possible outcomes.”