Tackling offences against women and girls has always been a prime concern for the Force with victims and witnesses being a top priority, and central to the Control Strategy for 2022/23. However, to enhance the service provided, a new strategy to tackle violence against women and girls (VAWG) was implemented with the Force investing in over 900 officers to work in local areas specifically investigating the offences that relate to VAWG, such as Domestic Abuse and Rape Investigation.
The fourth quarterly submission has been made to the National Task Force which included progress against the national action plan and the force skills profile. Kent continues to strengthen skills in key areas including Rape Investigation Teams and in Vulnerability Investigation Teams (VIT) for Domestic Abuse (DA). Learning and Development support this work by ensuring courses are matched against demand and progress continues to be tracked.
The National Operation Soteria Team is supported by commissioned services East Kent Rape Crisis and Family Matters and they visited Kent to assess the force’s position against the self-assessment recently. Kent received positive feedback regarding the quality of its assessment and the work that has been undertaken to improve in this area and are now in the process of developing an action plan to deliver against the principles of the National Operating Model that has been developed from the improvements made in the original five pathfinder forces.
Protecting Vulnerable People (PVP) Command have introduced a new governance framework which supports delivery of the VAWG Intervention Tool and ensures an OSARA approach (Objective, Scanning, Analysis, Response and Assessment) to the highest harm offenders, ensuring they are managed through one of the management strands available such as Integrated Offender Management (IOM), MOSOVO (Managing of Sexual and Violent Offenders) and the Proactive VIT DA team. The force is also introducing Protective Orders Officers to increase the identification of protective order opportunities and improve quality of investigations and management.
The VAWG Walk and Talk events continue; these events have allowed officers and staff to engage women and girls across the county, to learn from their experience of living and socialising in high harm areas as identified through analysis via Gang Reduction Intervention Partnership (GRIP) Hot spots and the Safer Streets App. The force is in the process of evaluating the response so it can provide feedback to communities regarding what action has been taken as a result, for example, mirrors on underpasses and improved lighting.
The force continues to work with partners to raise awareness and promote activity across the partnership. The Kent Community Safety Partnership has chosen VAWG as their theme for the County Community Safety Partnership Conference in March, which Kent Police are supporting. The Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) review has concluded and a change in model was approved at the Strategic Change and Resourcing Board in December. PVP are working with the partnership to implement the new model which will provide an improved service to High-Risk victims of Domestic Abuse.
Kent Police has also supported a further bid by the University of Kent to create a stalking best practice hub. This involves academics working with officers and staff to improve identification, investigation and management of stalking cases. As part of the bid, the academic expert Dr Jane Storey will:
Provide training to officers on typology of stalkers and risk factors within stalking and how these can be identified
Attend the Force Multi Agency Stalking Intervention Programme (MASIP) and offer actions from a forensic psychology perspective
Run stalking victim focus groups
Add additional evidence to officers' overarching statements when they are applying for Stalking Protection Orders (SPO), setting out the clinical need for the prohibitions and requirements officers and staff are requesting.
Dr Storey will evaluate how successful these interventions are by assessing our success rate with SPO applications in court and quality of investigations.
4.1 Rape Offences
The Force has established specific Rape Investigation (Phoenix) Teams to concentrate on this crime type; these are significantly harmful crimes that have a huge impact, not only on victims, but on how safe communities feel. There has also been the investment of Sexual Offences Liaison Officers (SOLOs) to ensure victims receive the highest standards of care, ensuring there is a single point of contact for any victim entering into the Criminal Justice System. The SOLOs attend reports of rape, secure and oversee initial evidence capture, provide key support, and safeguard victims all the way through the investigative process, culminating in attending and remaining with them through the duration of court hearings.
3 Month total
Rape offences have experienced a decrease of 10.8%, with 67 less offences compared to the same period last year. Reductions are seen in November and December, with a small increase in January 2023 (+17) compared to the same period last year. The Charge Rate for Rape has increased in 2022 when compared to 2021, improving from 3.9% to 7.3%.
4.2 Sexual Offences
3 Month total
Sexual offences have experienced an overall decrease of 7.0%, with 113 less offences compared to the same period last year. Decreases were experienced in November and December, however offences are consistent in January 2023 with January 2022. The suspect interviewed rate has increased from 35.5% to 38.3% and the charge rate has also increased from 4.5% to 7.9%.
Protect People from Exploitation and Abuse.
Abuse, exploitation and violence are a crime and a violation of an individual’s fundamental human rights. The Force is committed to tackling these crimes and safeguarding vulnerable people from serious harm. The revised Force Control Strategy 2022/2023 highlights exploitation and serious violence and abuse as Force priorities, demonstrating its dedication to dealing with offenders and protecting victims and witnesses of these crime types.
5.1 Domestic Abuse.
DA is a key part of the VAWG strategy, recognising the significant level of harm to the public and that it can affect everyone. Kent Police is constantly seeking new ways to ensure DA victims receive the best service possible. The Force is committed to providing an enhanced intuitive response to victims of DA which will lead to changes in how some DA incidents are dealt with.
3 Month total
Domestic Abuse offences have experienced a 14.1% decrease, with 1311 less offences compared to the same period last year. There have been continued reductions month on month since July 2022. January 2023 has recorded the lowest volume of offences since January 2020.
A contributing factor to the decrease in Domestic Abuse offences is a recent change to recording practices under the risk assessment, this has resulted in the recording of additional stalking & harassment and controlling & coercive behaviour to reduce and likely to have a marginal impact on the current Domestic Abuse volumes.
Active Crime for DA continues to be stable, with an average of 2300 active crimes across the Force. The Suspect Interviewed Rate has fallen slightly when compared to 2021, falling from 36.2% to 35.3% in 2022 but the Charge Rate has improved to 7.3%, rising from 5.6% in 2021. There has also been an improvement in the Solved Rate across the Force, rising from 7.4% for the same period in 2021, to 9.1% in 2022.
Proactive Domestic Abuse Teams
These dedicated teams are working towards the new requirements and are delivering excellent results, working collaboratively with the DA Hub and Vulnerability Investigation Teams. They use a blend of data to identify offenders who pose the greatest risk and deliver a targeted approach to tackle their offending. Officers from the North and East VIT Proactive DA teams continue to operate to the agreed Terms of Reference, with work ongoing to support the West of the county to fully align. Divisions continue to record details of interventions, allowing them to track the impact on repeat offending and repeat victims. Kent Police have achieved over 105 SPOs, all of which are managed within the VIT Proactive DA teams, allowing oversight and consistency of approach.
Domestic Abuse Hub
The final phase of the DA Hub has been completed, so all three divisions are being serviced by the Hub, ensuring all victims are offered the same service force wide. This includes the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme’s (DVDS) right to ask requests, all DA Non-Custodial Interviews, all standard risk DA and all VIT diary appointments. A full review will take place by 31st March 2023.