John Thompson of the Camel Valley Cycle Club on the route at Millook with Widemouth Bay in the background
Insp Ian Marshall
PARENTS are being blamed for letting their drunk, scantily-clad daughters as young as 13 roam the streets of Bodmin following reports of a steep rise in sexual offences.
There have been 27 sex crimes recorded in the town during the past year.
Police admitted they were disappointed at what amounts to a 145% increase on the previous year, but moved to allay fears the town was becoming dangerous for women.
However they and local councillors raised concerns young drunken girls were putting themselves in potentially dangerous situations, with calls for more parental responsibility.
A meeting of Bodmin Town Council last week was told alcohol-fuelled girls as young as 13 who dressed to look older than their age were putting themselves in vulnerable situations.
Cllr Lance Kennedy told colleagues: "Bodmin is a lot safer now than it was four years ago, and there is no need for young women to be scared when they go out.
"But they need to be mindful of how much alcohol they consume, and mindful of the company they keep.''
Cllr Linda Spear agreed, adding: "These parents should take more attention of how their youngsters are dressing and behaving outside the home, especially if they are drinking under age. It's very worrying when I see young women who look as if they are aged 19 and you find out they are only 14."
Home Office guidelines now require various crimes to be recorded as sexual offences, including internet pornography, which is partly responsible for the increase, according police.
Inspector Ian Marshall, who is in charge of policing in Bodmin, said this week there had only been a handful of assaults which were deemed to be of a serious sexual nature, but other types of criminal activity had to be factored into the statistics.
He said high-profile media reports of sex cases had also made people more confident in reporting them.
"Sexual offences cover a wide spectrum and all have to be recorded,'' said Inspector Marshall.
"It can be people downloading pornography from the internet, someone exposing themselves to the public, young people having indecent images on a mobile phone or someone pinching someone's bottom.''
"We had one man admitting 10 offences of flashing, and that amounted to 10 separate crimes having to be recorded.
"In the vast majority of cases, we are not talking about rape and other very serious offences.''