SEX offences increased by 60 per cent in Bolton last year — with police chiefs citing the "Jimmy Savile effect" as the main reason behind the rise.

There were more than 400 rapes and sexual assaults reported in the town in 2013/14 — compared to 260 over the previous 12 months.

Overall crime also rose by five per cent with nearly 18,000 reported incidents — in comparison to 17,000 the year before — while violent crime, burglary and weapon possession are also on the up.

A leading barrister in Bolton called the rise in rapes "alarming" adding that the trend needed to be addressed.

But Bolton's new police chief said he was not concerned by the figures and that people in Bolton were "no less safe".

Ch Supt Shaun Donnellan said: "Sexual offences were always going to go up.

"One, we give a better standard of service, and two there has been a Jimmy Savile effect with more historical crime.

"You are no less safe in Bolton in 2014 than you were in 2013, 2011 and so on.

"The figures do not concern me.

"Particularly for the violence figures, we have put in place more stringent reporting measures which means we are more likely to make a report of something as a crime."

Andrew Costello, of Russell & Russell solicitors, said: “Crime continues to remain a serious issue in Bolton.

"The figures show an alarming increase in sexual offences which clearly needs to be addressed, however, this is a trend that is widespread across the country and not just Bolton."

Public order offences jumped 27 per cent to 851 from 670 cases in 2013 while violence without injury increased by 24 per cent.

Offences relating to the possession of weapons has increased by 22 per cent while non-domestic burglaries are up to 1,502 from 1,334 — a 13 per cent increase.

However, not all crimes are on the increase.

Drug offences were down 16 per cent to 633 cases last year, while criminal damage and arson has reduced by seven per cent from 3,000 to 2,800 cases.

Bicycle theft has also reduced with 224 cases reported in 2013/14.

Murder rates remain low, although the four reported in 2013/14 was double the figure for the previous year.

Chf Supt Donnellan added: "Arsons have come down because of the greater partnership work with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.

"They are going out giving advice on wheelie bin fires and home safety. We are a lot more on the ball with this than before."

Chf Supt Donnellan, already police boss in Wigan, took over in Bolton in March this year from Ch Supt Dave Hull.

He added: "Bolton and Wigan are two very different boroughs — they are almost like separate countries.

"I am really enjoying my work in Bolton, especially the diversity of the town."

It is the second time in two years that the number of sexual offences has risen in Bolton.

Last year, the number of rapes rose to 93 — from 37 the year before.

Officers again cited the "Savile effect" saying the increase was a result of more people reporting rapes, rather than an increase in the crime.

Police also said the number of historic reports — which include rapes dating back more than a year — were on the up.

Victims of rape can get help and advice at St Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Manchester without going to the police.

Specially trained independent sexual violence advisers will work with victims from the start until the end of the case.

Special measures including screens and video links are available for people who are fearful of giving evidence in court. Investigations can take months and each report is treated seriously.