By law, Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) are required to publish a Police and Crime Plan that covers their term of office, and to keep the plan under constant review. PCCs also have a duty to consult with victims and the wider community on their plan priorities.
For me, consultation commenced in the lead up to the May 2021 PCC election as I developed the Manifesto commitments upon which I was re-elected. Having been re-elected though, with circa 1.9 million people living in the county, I was keen to encourage further feedback to inform my Police and Crime Plan. Therefore, in autumn 2021 I conducted a survey to reach out to as many Kent communities as possible.
A total of 2,848 responses were received and the following is a precise of the results:
Q2. How safe do you feel where you live, on a scale of 1 to 10? (1 = very unsafe / 10 = very safe)
On average Respondents felt 7.0 / 10 safe where they live
Q3. Have you been a victim of crime in Kent in the last year?
8% indicated ‘Yes’
Q4. If so, how satisfied were you with the service from Kent Police? (1 = very unsatisfied / 10 = very satisfied)
On average victims rated the service 4.3 / 10
Q7. Which of the following issues do you feel are the most important?
Respondents could select up to six issues from a pre-defined list of 22; the top five were:
Sexual offences, incl. rape
Serious violence, incl. gangs / weapon offences
Child sexual exploitation
Burglary / Robbery
Q9. To what extent do you feel safe on the roads where you live?
2% felt either unsafe or very unsafe
Q11. To what extent do you agree that offences which occur on the roads require more enforcement?
5% strongly agreed or agreed
This formed only one element of the consultation; it also took account of the results of other surveys, correspondence received by the Office of the PCC (OPCC), feedback from engagement events, emerging local threats and national guidance.
In light of my Manifesto commitments and personal views, feedback from surveys and the national and local context, I developed the ‘Making Kent Safer Plan – April 2022 to March 2025’. Whilst committed to refreshing it each year, in principle it sets the priorities for Kent Police, partners and the OPCC, as well as the overall strategic direction of policing and community safety in the county for the next three years.
The Making Kent Safer Plan was considered and supported - with a couple of minor amends - by the Kent and Medway Police and Crime Panel at their meeting on 2 February 2022. It was published on 1 April 2022.
At its core is integrity and transparency. As an elected PCC, the public rightly expects the highest standards of behaviour from me, therefore strong ethics, integrity and transparency must be at the heart of all I do. From Chief Constables to police officers on the street, there is also a need to strengthen public trust and confidence, with the importance of integrity and transparency in policing never greater.
For the plan to be successful, underpinning the actions and decisions of the Chief Constable and myself are three overarching guiding principles, namely:
Crime is important no matter where it takes place – urban, rural or coastal communities: Kent Police must have the right resources in the right place so every crime can be investigated appropriately and proportionately, with the right outcome secured for the victim.
Victims and witnesses at the heart of everything we do: victims and witnesses must feel confident to report crime to Kent Police; when they do, they must be treated with care, respect and dignity and have confidence in the criminal justice system.
Ensure that vulnerable people and those suffering mental ill health get support from the right agency: through multi-agency working Kent Police and the OPCC will work to reduce demand on policing and ensure the vulnerable or those suffering mental ill health receive the right help from the right agency at the right time.
The plan then outlines the priorities I have set the Chief Constable and myself over the next three years:
My priorities for the Chief Constable:
1) Work with residents, communities and businesses to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour
2) Tackle violence against women and girls
3) Protect people from exploitation and abuse
4) Combat organised crime and county lines
5) Be visible and responsive to the needs of communities
6) Prevent road danger and support Vision Zero
7) Protect young people and provide opportunities
My commitments as PCC:
1) Hold all agencies to account for the delivery of an effective and efficient criminal justice system
2) Work in partnership with the police and others to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour
3) Be responsive to emerging issues and trends through innovation
4) Secure the funding that Kent needs through specific grants and the funding formula review
5) Support volunteering
6) Commission services for victims that are needs-led
The plan also recognises that the priorities do not sit in isolation but must be delivered in the context of national expectations, and in particular: