VOYEURS and flashers were reported to Lancashire police hundreds of times during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic.

The most recent recorded data shows Lancashire Constabulary received 232 reports of voyeurism or flashing crimes in the year to March 2021– though this was down from the 244 recorded the year before.

Different data shows cases of this nature are often shelved before reaching a courtroom, with 29 of the 213 investigations (14 per cent) closed during the same period in the area resulting in a suspect being charged or summonsed.

At the end of last year officers launched an appeal to track down a man accused of several incidents in Burnley. At the time it was reported that the man had been exposing himself to members of the public in about around the Netherwood Road and Rowley Lakes areas.

Elsewhere a serial flasher appeared in court again after he admitted to exposing himself in Bury.

Richard Graham has regularly struck across Lancashire and Greater Manchester.

Forces across England and Wales recorded 10,200 such crimes in 2020-21, again down from 10,800 the year before.

And another 3,300 were recorded between April and June 2021 – 76 in Lancashire.

A police spokesman said: “We take all reports of this type of behaviour seriously, encouraging people who have witnessed voyeurism or who have been victim flashing to report these incidents to us. The more reports we have, the better informed we are to target areas of concern and crackdown on those who choose to commit these acts.”

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 is now investigating allegations that officers failed to adequately probe the claims.

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.

Charge rates for reports of voyeurism and flashing varied significantly between police forces last year – in Warwickshire, just 5 per cent resulted in a charge or summons, while in Dyfed-Powys, 31 per cent did.

Campaign group End Violence Against Women and Girls 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.

Deputy director Deniz Ugur 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."

She 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.

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