POLICE say "addressing attitudes" of men and boys is key to preventing violent and sexual offences, as less than nine per cent of voyeurism and flashing reports in the county resulted in prosecutions last year.

The most recent Home Office recorded crime data shows West Yorkshire Police received 321 reports of voyeurism or indecent exposure crimes in the year to March 2021.

This was down from 341 recorded the year before, but different data indicates cases of this nature are often shelved before reaching a courtroom.

These figures show that just 29 of the 324 investigations (nine per cent) into these offences in West Yorkshire last year resulted in a suspect being charged or summoned.

The lowest charge rate for reports of voyeurism and flashing across forces in England and Wales was in Warwickshire (five per cent), while the highest was in Dyfed-Powys (31 per cent).

Overall, there were 10,200 of these crimes reported throughout the country in 2020-21, which was down by 600 from the year before (10,800).

There were 3,300 reports of offences recorded across the country between April and June of 2021 - 119 in West Yorkshire.

A spokesperson for West Yorkshire Police explained tackling crimes like this - and any violent or sexual offences - are a priority for the force, particularly as they can be the starting point of more serious offences.

The spokesperson said: “The prevention and detection of all forms of violent and sexual offences are a force priority and we continue to work closely with partner organisations to make the county a safer place.

“Such crimes are taken seriously as they are recognised as potential pre-cursors to much more serious offending.

“We will continue our efforts with partners to create an environment, so that women and girls can feel safe on the streets of West Yorkshire."

Prior to the impact of the pandemic, which led to crime rates dropping, the number of offences had been climbing steadily in recent years.

Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens was accused of indecent exposure six years before he murdered Sarah Everard and was said to have exposed his genitals in a fast-food restaurant just days before the killing.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is now investigating allegations that officers failed to adequately probe the claims.

The deputy director of campaign group, End Violence Against Women and Girls, claims it is "abundantly clear the current system is failing women and girls".

Deniz Ugur has called for more research into the response to "lower level" sex offences and whether that response contributes to a sense of impunity in men who go onto commit more serious crimes.

She said: "It's abundantly clear the current system is failing women and girls when incidents like street harassment, groping and flashing are almost universally experienced by women and girls across their lifetimes, and then are so often trivialised or dismissed if reported."

Data shows 40 per cent of the 10,400 cases closed nationally in 2020-21 were dropped due to difficulties gathering evidence, with one in six of those closed before a suspect could be identified.

Ms Ugur said a radical overhaul of the policing and criminal justice system's response to violence against women was needed to ensure the "drivers and actions of perpetrators" were properly investigated and victims supported to access justice.

The West Yorkshire Police spokesperson said a pivotal part of prevention is educating men and boys about their behaviour and attitudes.

They added: “A key aspect of this work is addressing attitudes and behaviours of men and boys, particularly through raising awareness, and education.

"This is not only to prevent offending and reduce reoffending, but to also encourage positive role modelling and advocacy in this vitally important area.”

A Government spokeswoman said police forces "must tackle violence against women and girls head on".

She said the Government is funding a new national policing lead to tackle violence against women and girls in recognition of the seriousness of the issue and the need to drive improvements.

She added: "We expect forces to take the necessary action to treat reports of these crimes with the care and sensitivity they deserve.”