Police Cologne
Police in Cologne patrol this year's carnival celebrationsGetty

The number of complaints of sexual assault at Cologne's carnival more than doubled in 2016, according to police figures.

A Cologne Police spokesman told IBTimes UK that officers had received 55 allegations of sexual offences since the city's street carnival celebrations began on Thursday 4 February.

This is an increase of more than 161% on the previous years's 21 reported offences.

As thousands of extra police patrolled the streets in the wake of a series of sexual assaults in the city on New Year's Eve, 673 incidents were reported and 432 arrests made, in comparison with the 456 complaints and 232 arrests of the previous year.

Police said in a statement that the increased number of sexual offences reported was due to victims being more willing to file complaints following the New Year's Eve attacks, Die Welt reported.

The city's police commissioner, Juergen Mathies, declared himself satisfied with the policing operation.

"Police have been working great", he told WDR radio, and added that the higher crime figures reflected a police policy of proactively tackling crime, following criticism that police failure had allowed criminals to run amok on New Year's Eve.

"This concept has clearly been grasped," he said.

Among the victims of sexual assault was a Belgian television journalist, who was allegedly groped live on air as the carnival celebrations got underway last week. A 17-year-old German boy accompanied by his mother handed himself into police on Friday, and denies acting with a sexual intention.

Police are searching for an attacker who allegedly knocked down and raped a young woman who was returning home in the early hours of Friday, reported Die Welt.

There have been no reports of mass attacks by men of North African or Arab origin, who were blamed for the New Year's Eve attacks, leading to a backlash against Chancellor Angela Merkel's liberal immigration policies.