Agenda item

Kent Police Services Update

Representatives of Kent Police to be present to address:


-        crime prevention issues, including those raised by the Panel;

-        concerns in connection with Speedwatch (requested by KALC);

-        the lack of community police liaison with parishes


Inspector Rachel McNeil, attending on behalf of Chief Inspector Pate, provided a verbal update on the achievements made in performance and the neighbourhood policing agenda.


It was reported that the position in the Borough remained good despite a 7.7% increase in crime. Tonbridge and Malling had the 3rd lowest crime levels in Kent and remained one of the safest places in the County.  Increased reporting of incidents, more accurate recording of crime and fewer resources were believed to have contributed to the percentage increase over the year.


Particular reference was made to resourcing levels and police numbers remained stable despite the reduction in Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) due to them becoming regular police officers.    However, Kent Police were currently pursuing a recruitment campaign and this was actively supported by the new Police and Crime Commissioner to increase police visibility.


The Panel was advised that Chief Inspector Pate was now the Borough Commander for Tonbridge and Malling and Tunbridge Wells and this enabled an improved and co-ordinated approach between the two areas.  


Recent police initiatives included a road safety campaign in partnership with Kent Fire and Rescue Services; the implementation of dispersal orders for youths and speed checks focusing on problem areas, road traffic accident hot spots and new building developments.   A new road development experience had been built in Rochester for 14 – 18 year olds to educate on road safety.  Details of this were available from the Kent Fire and Rescue Services website.


With regard to Speed Watch initiatives, Inspector McNeil was pleased to advise that Alan Watson was the new police co-ordinator and was eager to work with parish councils to develop opportunities.


The Chairman asked that an invitation be extended to Mr Watson to attend the next meeting of the Parish Partnership Panel in November to talk about Speed Watch initiatives and to listen to concerns raised by Parish Councils.


Waterbury Parish Council referred to the lack of support from Kent Police on Speed Watch initiatives which was leading to their decline as volunteers no longer felt it was worthwhile without effective enforcement.    It was felt that points on licences and on the spot fines were more effective deterrents than warning letters from local Speed Watch co-ordinators.


Inspector McNeil responded that Kent Police took speeding seriously and arrangements were in place for speed checks over the coming months.  Locations that presented the highest risk were treated as a priority due to police resources.  The lack of communication around Speed Watch was recognised and it was anticipated that the position would be improved with a co-ordinator in place.


In response to a question, Inspector McNeil assured the Panel that Kent Police took drug issues seriously and dealt with this appropriately.  There was work undertaken with local schools and youth teams on education around drug use.  However, it was important to report incidents as they occurred as it was difficult to deal with issues retrospectively.   Dispersal orders were also an effective tool in preventing youths loitering and taking drugs but represented a challenging situation with reducing resources.


Kings Hill Parish Council asked about the level of community police liaison with parishes and the loss of the monthly reporting statistics.  Inspector McNeil advised that PCSOs now had increased areas to patrol which had impacted upon the level of community engagement undertaken.  The resourcing levels of PCSOs were under constant review.  With regard to the crime statistics the information was available on the Kent Police website and verbal updates could be provided if requested.  However, the more detailed statistics took time to prepare and the preference was for PCSOs to be visible in the community rather than behind a desk.


All parishes were encouraged to report any concerns or raise any issues with the Community Safety Unit.

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