LEADING professionals researching sexual violence attended a conference at Middlesex University last week to tackle increasing sexual crime rates.

The conference, held at the university’s Hendon campus on Thursday, enabled experts to share knowledge and techniques in the fight against sexual violence.

More than 54,000 sexual offences were recorded in England and Wales last year, a six per cent rise from the previous year.

Sexual violence was also said to have a "significant incidence" amongst university students.

The group warned that unless researchers and practitioners begin to pool their knowledge and experiences, sexual violence would continue to wreck the lives of thousands of people each year.

Professor Moira Carmody from the University of Western Sydney discussed sexual ethics and encouraged the development of ethical relationships in young people.

More than 130 research presentations were made, many by students from the university.

Dr Miranda Horvath, senior lecturer in forensic psychology at Middlesex University and co-organiser of the conference said: "Across the UK there are many professionals working hard to prevent sexual violence or deal with the consequences, but we can't afford to work in isolation.

"We will present the most up to date thinking on these issues and discuss how this can be applied across governments and right at the front-line by people who work with victims or offenders.”

The conference was organised by Dr Jackie Gray, Dr Susan Hansen and Dr Miranda Horvath of Middlesex University’s Forensic Psychological services.