Police tape
Separate police recorded crime figures show no change in overall crime from the 12 months to March 2014Getty

The number of sexual offences recorded by police in England and Wales increased by 20% in the year to March, new figures show.

The Office for National Statistics has attributed the surge in recorded crimes to victims of historical sex abuse coming forward in the wake of Operation Yewtree investigations and the Jimmy Savile Case.

According to the ONS, the number of police officers fell to its lowest number for 12 years, with 127,909 officers in 43 police forces, down by 1,674 compared to the previous year.

The separate Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSWE), published by the Office for National Statistics, indicated offending levels of overall crime dropped by 14% in the same period.

The CSEW report estimates crime levels based on how many people say they have been the victim.

The record fall in the last 12 months has taken crime levels in England and Wales to their lowest for 33 years.

According to the CSWE, crime has dropped across most types of offences, including a 20% fall in violent crime and a 17% drop in criminal damage. A 10% decrease in theft was also recorded.

Separate police recorded crime figures showed no change in overall crime from the 12 months to March 2014 - the first flat year after 11 years of continuous falls on this measure. The figures also include a 7% rise in shoplifting offences.

Home Office minister Norman Baker told BBC News he was encouraged by the figures, adding that people were showing more confidence in the police and reporting more crimes than previously.

"Crime goes down year on year so in that sense there is less for the police to do," he said.

"If crime is going down year on year... clearly that has an impact on the number of police officers you need on the street."

"Crime is down and police are able to deal with the cases coming forward," he added.