Welcome to my Annual Report which looks back at the 2022/23 financial year, my sixth year in office.
In December I was delighted to appoint Tim Smith as Chief Constable. Tim was selected as my preferred candidate following a thorough selection process to replace his predecessor Alan Pughsley QPM. Tim has already made changes to how policing is delivered in the county, and I am determined to provide him with the resources he needs to make Kent safer by ensuring the force goes from strength to strength.
Thanks to your contributions via the council tax precept, and the Government’s three-year uplift programme, there are now more police officers than ever before in Kent. At the end of March 2023, Kent Police had 4,203 officers; 1,021 more than when I came into office in spring 2016. The force did an amazing job recruiting in a tough job market and I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved.
The force has invested over 900 officers to work in areas specifically investigating offences related to violence against women and girls, such as domestic abuse and rape. It has also introduced Proactive Domestic Abuse Teams and a Domestic Abuse Hub which utilises video technology to virtually secure evidence and safeguard victims.
The role of Police and Crime Commissioner covers a wide range of duties across policing, crime, criminal justice and community safety, but none is more important than being the public's voice. I have continued to engage with residents and businesses, listening to what they have to say and holding the Chief Constable to account.
In this capacity, it became clear during the year that a large proportion of 101 calls were either not being answered or it was taking a long time. I raised this with the Chief Constable and am pleased to report the force took immediate action which led to significant improvements. I am reassured this performance has been maintained and there is now a longer-term plan around managing public contact in the future.
As Chair of the Kent Criminal Justice Board, one of the biggest challenges continues to be the backlog in cases. Despite efforts by criminal justice partners and engagement with Ministers, caseload numbers remain unacceptably high. Victims and witnesses should not have to wait months, or years, for their case to be heard in court.
With the support of my office, I was successful in securing additional funding for my commissioning budget of £3.5m. This enabled me to provide further support to victims of sexual violence and domestic abuse and to help organisations manage the increased demand due to delays in the justice system.
I am very conscious of the increases in cost of living and will always do my best to ensure that Kent taxpayers get value for money for the contributions they make. I have continued to work with both Kent Police and the Government to help mitigate the cost pressures that policing faces.
Finally, I would like to thank every Kent Police officer, Police Community Support Officer, member of staff and volunteer for their tireless efforts during 2022/23. My thanks also to the staff in my office for their hard work and support to me as your elected Police and Crime Commissioner.
Kent Police and Crime Commissioner
NB: For electronic readers this version has replaced the bullet points in the original report with either numbers or letters. The numbers and letters do not indicate higher or lower priority.