The policing of Kent’s town centres is to be given a boost following the announcement that there will be 56 dedicated police officers across the county.
The officers will serve urban communities and high streets by tackling crime during the evening hours, anti-social behaviour and theft.
A total of 38 new constables will be recruited and will join 18 other police officers who are already in post as part of a pilot.
Towns such as Maidstone, Folkestone and Chatham where town centre PCs are already in place will receive additional support while areas such as Gillingham, Cliftonville and Sevenoaks will see the introduction of dedicated officers in the near future.
Chief Constable Alan Pughsley said: ‘Increases in the police element of Council Tax and Kent Police’s financial planning over the last few years – which has been independently graded as ‘Outstanding’ - means we have worked hard to steadily increase officer numbers, protect our 300 PCSOs, and improve the great service we already provide for people in Kent.
‘Through analysing crime levels and service demand we’ve identified where’s best to put these officers and we’re confident we have identified the areas that will benefit from them the most in terms of keeping people safe, preventing crime, and enforcement action.
‘But it should not be forgotten that every town, whether they have a dedicated Town Centre PC or not, will still be served by our Local District Policing Teams, our Community Safety Units, our PCSOs, and our Special Constables who pride themselves in putting victims at the heart of everything they do.’
The additional officers have been recruited under Kent Police’s More Than the Badge campaign – the largest recruitment drive in the force’s history.
It has been funded by an uplift in the council tax precept secured by Matthew Scott, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent.
Mr Scott said: ‘I am delighted that the Chief Constable is deploying these extra officers to communities right across Kent.
‘They have been funded by local residents through my decision to increase the policing part of council tax bills earlier this year. It was not an easy decision, but one which is enabling Kent Police to recruit an additional 180 officers to increase visibility and deal with residents’ concerns.
‘As a result, 26 towns – from Maidstone to Margate and from Dartford to Deal – now boast their own dedicated Town Centre PCs.
‘Precept rises have funded an additional 450 officers since 2016 and we have been able to protect our 300 PCSOs too. The Home Secretary has also announced we are receiving Government funding for a further 147 police officers in the first year of the national recruitment campaign to boost numbers further and make us even safer in Kent.'