Published: 12:19, 15 October 2020
| Updated: 13:14, 15 October 2020
Swale has the second lowest charge rate for domestic abuse.
In the year up to August, police were called to 1,660 cases in the borough and made 699 arrests in 42.1% of cases.
But only 62 people were charged which at 3.7% is the second lowest in Kent.
The average for the force is 5.2%. Only Ashford is lower at 3.5%. Tonbridge and Malling has the highest charge rate at 7.2%.
It comes at a time when domestic violence is escalating across the county and follows the first coronavirus lockdown.
Numbers have been growing every month across Kent since February, with 3,966 offences reported in August, compared to 2671 in February.
In the past year, officers have dealt with 1,660 cases in Swale up 273 on the previous year at 19.7%.
In August, the most recent month figures are available for, the force dealt with 3,966 allegations across the county, made 1,573 arrests (39.7%) and charged 215 suspects (5%).
In the 12 months up to August officers were called to 17,624 incidents which is up 2,583 on the previous year and is a 17.2% increase.
The figures came in a report to Tonbridge and Malling councillors by DI Matt Burdekin, who, speaking about the countywide charge rate, said: "I think certainly my senior management team would like probably to see that increase."
He added: "Domestic abuse investigations are 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 do to do that."
Charging decision in relation to domestic abuse incidents are made by the Crown Prosecution Service.
DI Burdekin said the rise in the last four months 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."
'People are under more financial pressure, there's a lot more poverty about...'
He also 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 through the criminal justice system."
Dr Liza Thompson, CEO of Swale Action to End Domestic Abuse (SATEDA) said: “I am shocked by these figures, however, they will be due to many different factors, and from SATEDA's experience of Kent police’s general response to domestic abuse I would be surprised if thelow charge rate was wholly due to a lack of proactive response or investigation by local police officers.
"What concerns me the most is if domestic abuse victims see these low charge rates and are put off contacting police for protection. Our experience of Kent Police is that they are on the whole very proactive when responding to domestic abuse incidents, if you are in danger please call the police.”
Cases can be reported to police online or calling 999 or 101 or turning up at a police station.
To visit SATEDA's website, click here.