There has been a spike in sexual assaults across the Hunter, according to new crime data, with the Port Stephens local government area recording a 47.8 per cent increase in the two years to March.
The latest NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research figures released this week show that instances of sexual assault across the Hunter outside Newcastle jumped by 18.8 per cent over the 24-month period, increasing by 19.1 per cent in the past year.
Including the Newcastle local government area takes the total number of sexual assault cases in the Hunter region in the year to March to 774 - more than two each day.
"The increase in sexual assault reports in the Port Stephens-Hunter PD [police district] can be attributed to a range of factors, most of which include increased reporting from members of the public," district commander Superintendent Chad Gillies said.
"This figure also shows a continued community confidence to report both current and historic offences to police."
Newcastle police commander Superintendent Brett Greentree said sexual assault cases had increased in his district in the past year, but the total was lower than the 12-month period between April 2017 and March 2018.
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"All sexual assault cases are reviewed by senior detectives and we maintain very close links to various support services within the Newcastle area," he said.
"Newcastle City police continue to promote and encourage the reporting of sexual assault incidents to police."
The data also showed that cases of stalk/intimidate/harass were up 71.1 per cent in the Upper Hunter Shire in the past two years, possession and use of cannabis was up 47.2 per cent at Port Stephens, break and enters at non-dwellings increased by 46.2 per cent at Cessnock and thefts from retail stores jumped by 20.4 per cent in Newcastle.
Breach of bail cases decreased by 28.5 per cent in Muswellbrook and possession and use of cannabis was down by 26.9 per cent at Cessnock.
Robberies without a weapon went up by 71 per cent in Newcastle in the 24-months to March.
Superintendent Greentree said robberies without a weapons were "noted to largely be opportunistic, with some recidivist offenders not local residents.