Every Monday, I meet with Chief Officers to discuss crime and antisocial behaviour, operational issues, performance, community engagement and the matters that residents raise with me.
A key issue during the course of the last fifteen months has been domestic abuse and violence, which many correctly warned would increase in volume during the period of lockdown. There has, over the last five years, been an increasing number of reports made by victims to police of 47%. (Source).
I have been briefed this week that the numbers of crimes have continued to rise, with an increase of 9.7% this April compared with April last year. And in April 2020 we had seen an increase of 14.1%.
There will be a number of reasons for this rise. There is of course greater awareness through increased efforts to encourage people to come forward, both at a local and national level. This increase in confidence is a positive step, even if it seems like an increase in crime reports might be negative; it’s important because more people can get support from the police and others, especially if they have reported for the first time.
Other factors have been contributing to the increase – domestic abuse between family members has been on the increase for some time and locally we have new services in place to support victims of adolescent to parent violence. Crime recording standards have improved. And unfortunately, the nature of lockdown itself will have contributed to the increase as well.
We also discussed the landmark Domestic Abuse Act, which has received Royal Assent. This is an excellent development because for the first time we will have a legal definition of domestic abuse that is wide-ranging and delivers extra protections and support for victims. I will be working with Kent Police and the charities that I commission to ensure that we are all ready for the implementation of the Act.
Please remember, if you or someone you know needs help, dial 999 in an emergency. Information about support services can be found here.