A man biting a woman's arm. Picture: Library image
Almost a dozen people are being bitten by humans every week in Kent – but around half of cases go unsolved.
Kent Police recorded as many as 262 crimes where attackers used their teeth in the first six months of this year, with 33 of the victims children.
Most shocking was the case of a one-year-old, from Gravesham, who suffered a bite mark to their genitals in May.
This was one of 141 human bite crimes recorded by the force from January to June that remains unsolved, analysis of police reports by KentOnline reveals.
However, many of these unsolved – or "undetected" – crimes could remain under ongoing investigation.
Perhaps the most seriously wounded victim of a human bite was a 23-year-old who had their ear bitten off in Maidstone in April.
A 22-year-old had a finger partly bitten off in Shepway in April, while a 34-year-old had their tongue partly bitten off in Medway during the same month.
Another four people in Medway, Swale, Dover and Thanet had a "portion of their ear removed" in human bitings.
The statistics released under the Freedom of Information Act show 13 attackers drew blood – including from bites to the ear, face, finger, leg and wrist.
Many other cases involved human bite marks to the arm, back, leg, cheek, chest, ear, elbow, face, hand, finger, forehead, neck, nose, shoulder, thumb, torso and wrist.
Scores of victims have been bitten by people in Kent. Picture: Library image
Of the 262 bites categorised as crimes by police, 74 led to charges or court summonses.
Others were dealt with by youth or adult cautions, reprimands, warnings or restorative justice – where offenders meet their victims to apologise.
The 32 other cases with child victims involved:
- a five-year-old whose arm was bitten in Shepway in February
- a nine-year-old who suffered a bite to a finger that drew blood in Dover in June
- three 12-year-olds who received bite marks in Tonbridge and Malling, Canterbury and Dover
- a final warning for someone who left bite marks on the arm of a 13-year-old from Canterbury in February
- three 14-year-olds bitten in Canterbury, Shepway and Sevenoaks
- five 15-year-olds who suffered bite marks - with three cases going unsolved, but one in Maidstone resulting in a youth caution in May and one in Canterbury leading to restorative justice in the same month
- seven 16-year-olds who were bitten, with one attacker given a reprimand in Swale in February and one case of restorative justice in Shepway
- eleven 17-year-olds who were bitten, with just one culprit in Medway charged or summonsed to court in March.
Three pensioners were bitten by another person – a 73-year-old in Swale, 72-year-old in Medway and 68-year-old in Sevenoaks.
Kent Police were unable to provide comparable statistics on human bites for previous years.
However, the force defended its record of prosecuting cases of human bites.
DCI Andrew Pritchard, from the public protection unit, said officers need the victim's co-operation before pressing charges.
He said: "The data demonstrates that in more than half the cases (53.5% of the data provided) there is a sanction upon the perpetrator of the bite.
"However, without detailed scrutiny of many cases it is not possible to give an accurate overview of what types of cases these are.
"But from my experience I do not believe that biting is more prevalent in any particular crime type such as night-time economy violence, domestic abuse or physical assault in child protection work."
Kent Police headquarters in Maidstone
He added: "There are increased opportunities to detect offenders for bites because of residual forensic opportunities if a bite mark or saliva is available to examine.
"However, as in many crimes that we record, to secure a positive outcome we require the victim’s co-operation.
"We also need sufficient evidence that we can disprove, for example that a reasonable defence has not been presented (eg that the bite was in self defence in order to get an assailant off them).
"We will always seek to investigate all reasonable lines of enquiry to establish the facts of the matter and where appropriate prosecute the perpetrator of such violence."
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