Officers investigating sexual offences in the county are at “breaking point”, according to Kent Police’s chief constable.
Alan Pughsley says the number of victims coming forward has “grown in a huge, huge way”, which he attributed to an increased confidence in speaking out against those who they are "familiar" with, as well as historical offences.
The most recently published figures show 4,098 sexual offences were reported to Kent Police between April 2016 and March 2017 – representing a 32% year-on-year increase.
Mr Pughsley said: “Whether they are ones we can solve and throw everything at or, for whatever reason, it doesn’t look like we’ll get a criminal justice outcome, we have safeguard and care for the victim.
“All of that takes the time and effort of my officers and staff, and I think we’re at the breaking point staffing wise to deliver that (quality) service to all of the victims.”
The chief constable told Kent’s police crime and commissioner Matthew Scott (Con) on Wednesday (December 12) that he would invest further in the team if he had more money.
He also suggested the rise in number of sexual offences reported to Kent Police would “continue to grow” before the statistics begin to “plateau”.
Mr Pughsley added: “Many of them are consensual issues one-on-one which are very hard to prove, so sometimes victims feel frightened and scared to report them. But we are seeing more reporting of these offences for sure.
“There are also victims who are more confident to report historic rape offences, so we’ve got a huge amount of offences which are harder to prove or disprove because many elements of forensic evidence have disappeared.
“If those are being reported to us in the numbers we’re seeing at the moment, then there’s a huge increase in this type of crime – and I think that will continue.”