Charity condemns domestic violence ‘epidemic’ as Kingston faces dramatic rise in incidents

Domestic violence has risen steeply in Kingston, compared to other south west London boroughs, according to the latest crime statistics from the Metropolitan Police.

Last year Kingston men and women reported 997 incidents which was a 39.6% increase from the previous year, when 714 incidents were recorded.

Although Kingston is identified as one of the safest south west London boroughs alongside Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston partners experienced the highest increase in abuse.

Sandra Horley CBE, domestic violence charity Refuge’s chief executive, said: “Sadly Refuge is not surprised to see high levels of domestic violence being reported in Kingston.

“Domestic violence is at epidemic levels across the UK.”

The Met’s figures reveal all south west London boroughs saw a dramatic rise in the last year.

She added: “Whilst the most recent figures in Kingston show an increase in the levels of domestic violence reported, which could in part be thanks to more awareness, it is very likely that these figures are just the tip of the iceberg.”

Richmond and Wandsworth followed Kingston’s staggering rise with a 38% and 37.6% increase respectively.

While Lambeth, who had the highest number of reported incidents, experienced the lowest increase at 13.2%.

Councillor Julie Pickering, who has responsibility for the Safer Kingston Partnership, said: “While the latest crime statistics from the Metropolitan Police indicate that Kingston is still one of the safest boroughs in London, we are mindful of the steep rise in reports of domestic violence incidents over the last year.

“Combating domestic violence is a particular priority for the council and our colleagues across the Safer Kingston Partnership.

“In the last 18 months, we have introduced a number of changes to improve the way we both respond to and fight domestic violence in Kingston.

“It is too early to say why the latest figures indicate this increase and we are therefore monitoring this rise in reporting, which we believe may be a result of the rigorous initiatives we have introduced in recent years.”

Kingston council launched their first borough wide plan and the Kingston Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention partnership to combat domestic abuse following an independent review in November 2013.

Ms Pickering said: “Having said all that, I am in no way complacent.

“Domestic violence destroys lives and we are absolutely committed to doing everything in our power to reduce it in Kingston upon Thames.

“Along with the police and others in the Safer Kingston Partnership we are continuously monitoring domestic violence.

“This work will now include a review of the latest evidence in order to understand exactly what is happening in our borough.”

The MET also are looking at all the ways to use new technology to increase their effectiveness and bring domestic abuse offenders to justice.

“We believe the increase in recorded offences is due to a range of factors,” a Met spokesperson said.

“This includes a growing confidence of victims to come forward to report crime, more accurate recording in identifying these offences and work with partners in other agencies to support victims.

“The Met takes domestic abuse very seriously and is committed to safeguarding all victims and bringing perpetrators to justice, working with all our partners and local communities.”

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Picture courtesy of Conor McClure, with thanks

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