Council tax 2019/20: Plan for 180 additional police officers approved
Published 7 February 2019
Kent Police is to look to recruit an additional 180 police officers in 2019/20, using funds raised by the Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott.
It means the establishment of full-time officers in Kent will increase to 3,632, returning the force to 96% of its peak strength from a decade ago.
On Wednesday February 6, Mr Scott’s budget plans were unanimously approved by the Kent and Medway Police and Crime Panel. As well as increasing officer numbers, Kent Police’s 300 Police Community Support Officers have also again been protected.
Mr Scott told panel members at the meeting in Maidstone:
‘Residents want to see more police out on the street and to pay for that I’m increasing the council tax by £2 a month for an average Band D property. This has been supported by 60% of people across more than 5,000 pieces of consultation feedback.’
Adding that it was not a decision taken lightly, the PCC said:
‘These plans are not just about asking for more money. I’ve asked Kent Police to continue their drive to be as efficient and effective as possible without putting frontline services at risk. They will make £9.7million of savings over the next year.
‘This, combined with the use of reserves to continue the improvements we’ve seen in performance within the Force Control Room, will enable the Chief Constable to look to recruit another 180 fully-warranted Police Constables next year. That is in addition to replacing those who leave or retire, and enables us to retain the 270 additional officers recruited since I was elected in 2016.’
Mr Scott stressed it would be down to the Chief Constable to determine exactly how and where these additional officers will be deployed, but said 90 would go into local policing roles and 90 into crime investigation teams to tackle issues like domestic abuse and sexual violence.
Mr Scott paid tribute to the continued dedication of Kent Police officers and staff, saying:
‘They do tremendous work on a day-to-day basis to keep us all safe. They don’t know what incidents they are going to be going to, what challenges they might be facing, or what dangers they might be presented with. Increased demand pressures have had an impact on them.
‘I believe this recruitment plan sends an important message – that they are not alone. We understand what they are going through and we want to see extra colleagues working alongside them and supporting them.’
Mike Hill, chairman of the Police and Crime Panel said to Mr Scott:
‘We would like to congratulate Kent Police on the very high quality performance we have seen. The force, under your leadership and under the Chief Constable’s leadership, has done very well indeed.’
Welcoming the announcement, Kent Police Chief Constable Alan Pughsley said:
‘I am delighted that we will now be able to recruit another 180 officers as a result of the changes to the policing precept. This is in addition to the 200 officers recruited in 2018.
‘Sound financial planning by the force means we can use this money to directly invest in the recruitment of more officers in the county.
‘The new recruits will be joining a dedicated team of officers, staff and volunteers who are committed to protecting our communities, putting victims at the heart of everything we do.
‘We have already started to welcome our first intake of new officers who were recruited last year. Many of them have already started making a difference in the communities they serve.
‘Kent Police has been independently graded as Outstanding and this investment will help to ensure that we continue to provide that level of service to the public.’
For information about Kent Police’s recruitment drive, and to apply to join the force, visit the careers section of the Kent Police website.