Sharp rise in sexual assaults in Dartford and Gravesend, as police admit they face 'unique challenge'
PUBLISHED: 12:27 26 July 2017 | UPDATED: 12:39 26 July 2017
Figures were released last week
Police have admitted they face a “unique challenge” coping with crime levels in Dartford and Gravesham after the number of sexual assaults reported rose by 64 per cent in just 12 months
The steep rise in sexual assaults is more than double the Kent average, which saw a county-wide increase of around 31 per cent.
District commander, chief inspector Tracey Quiller said: “North Kent continues to have unique challenges for the force due to our proximity to London and Essex, we work with partners and other forces to meet the demands of modern policing and tackle both traditional crime as well as emerging offences such as child sexual exploitation, modern slavery and organised gang networks.”
Assistant chief constable Tony Blaker claimed “high profile stories” and improved understanding had helped raise awareness and confidence in reporting such offences.
Hayley Connoway is the young person service manager at Choices, which supports victims of domestic violence including sexual assault around north Kent.
She said: “The prevalence of rape and sexual assault is probably the same as ever, but there has been a huge improvement in how the police are dealing with reports.
“We go into schools and teach about consent and knowing where boundaries are, with that education more people are able to come forward, and hopefully reduce numbers in the long run.
“We also work with Family Matters in Gravesend, which is dedicated to supporting victims of sexual assault and rape.”
Overall, crime reports between March 2016 and March 2017 rose by 23 per cent, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Reports of robbery and violence against the person rose by 36 and 37 per cent respectively, while criminal damage and arson numbers soared by 29 per cent and weapon offences by 61 per cent.
Ch insp Quiller added: “Year on year comparisons have seen a steady decline in reported crime. The levels of crime for 2016/17 remain significantly lower than 2006/7.
“While the figures appear higher than other districts it must be remembered that the figures are representing two separate areas combined in terms of both Dartford and Gravesham.
“Officers use a variety of methods to proactively identify crime patterns, from data analysis to listening to our communities, to ensure any increases are addressed as quickly as possible so the public can continue to enjoy North Kent as a safe and vibrant part of the county.”
Victims can contact Choices on 0800 9179948 or Family Matters on 01474 536661.