Worrying rise in domestic violence cases sparks call for special courts
Kent Police are considering special court hearings to deal with domestic violence cases after a worrying rise in abuse.
Kent chief constable Ian Learmonth said he was concerned by the rise in reports of domestic abuse, with more incidents taking place in public.
Mr Learmonth said it was unclear why there were more incidents and cases involving domestic abuse in public places although some was drink-related.
One option under consideration to address the rise was dedicated courts to fast-track those charged with such offences.
"The trend that we have seen recently, and it has only just started, is that it is not just happening behind closed doors in the home but on the streets. I do not know why that trend is happening but we need to look at it."
He said the rise could be associated with efforts to make it easier to report domestic violence, which accounts for a third of all violent incidents.
The problem is greatest in Chatham, Gillingham, Folkestone, Margate and Maidstone.
Mr Learmonth said: "We are working with the Crown Prosecution Service to examine how we can work together and move the offences through [the judicial process] as quickly as possible.
"We are looking at dedicated courts - we can do it for drink drivers."
He added: "We know from our experience that the longer you leave between the incident, the arrest and then the court process, the more chance the victim will withdraw their complaint and not pursue a conviction.
"If we can close that gap and get people into court much quicker, we have a
much better chance of conviction."
Although Kent Police has seen a rise in domestic violence, which it says has been higher than expected, repeat offending has fallen by about 2%.
Kent, like other forces, had seen an increase in all sorts of violent crime after several years of successive falls.
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