Published: 10:46, 15 October 2020
| Updated: 13:02, 15 October 2020
Only 5.5 % of the domestic abuse offences recorded in west Kent this year resulted in the perpetrator being charged.
Offences in the area rose by 8.3%, while in the whole county, numbers soared by 17.2%, with a noticeable jump during the lockdown months and summer.
The figures were presented at a Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council meeting by DI Matt Burdekin, from Kent Police. He said the countywide rise, which saw 17,624 offences recorded in the year up to August, could be caused by lockdown, adding: “People are under more financial pressure, there’s a lot more poverty about, possibly drug and alcohol abuse. Also mental health has certainly taken a hit.”
The county’s overall domestic violence arrest rate is 41.1%, while the charge rate sits at 5.2%.
DI Burdekin said his senior management team would “probably” like to see that increase. He added: “Domestic abuse investigations are sometimes quite complex and they are not always that easy to get to the point where we can charge a perpetrator but clearly we do everything we can.”
Charging decisions are made by the Crown Prosecution Service.
Henu Cummins, chief executive of west Kent charity, the Domestic Abuse Volunteer Support Services (DAVSS), said: “We still need to go further in understanding the complexities of domestic abuse.
"This is Kent Police data and it’s for them to analyse the evidence but if you think about coercion and control, it’s difficult to prove.
“Lots of emotion is involved in the process.”
While cases in west Kent rose by 8.3% this year to 3,627, in the north of the county shot up by 18.4% while the east had the largest increase, with 21.2%.
Reports in Maidstone rose from 1,202 to 1319, while Sevenoaks , Tonbridge and Malling and Tunbridge Wells had the lowest figures respectively, with increases from 595 to 682, 845 to 918 and 706 to 708.
DI Burdekin spoke about Operation Encompass which has been set up to try to reduce the number of cases.
He said: “We want to protect the lives of both adults and children who are at risk as a result of domestic abuse. We will investigate all reports of domestic abuse and facilitate effective action against offenders so that they can be held accountable.”
Cases can be reported by calling 999, or turning up at a police station.
To visit the DAVSS website, click here.