I am pleased to present my comments in response to the above report within the meaning of section 55(5) of the Police Act 1996 (as amended by section 37 of the Policing and Crime Act 2017).
I very much welcome the findings from HMICFRS’ PEEL assessment of Kent Police which were as follows:
Efficiency – Outstanding (uplift from Good)
Legitimacy – Outstanding (maintained for a fourth consecutive year)
Effectiveness – Good (maintained)
These are an impressive set of grades. Kent Police is one of only two forces (to date) graded ‘Outstanding’ in two pillars and the only force to achieve ‘Outstanding’ in both Efficiency and Legitimacy. Furthermore, it is the only force to be graded ‘Outstanding’ in Legitimacy for four consecutive years.
Taking these findings into account, and the force’s recent ‘Outstanding’ grade for crime data integrity, I firmly believe that Kent Police is the best police force in the country – holding more ‘Outstanding’ grades, and for longer – than any other. Following a visit, the previous Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service, Nick Hurd MP, even described Kent Police as ‘…an outstanding example of an excellent force’.
Kent Police cannot stand still though and must continue to improve what it does, and how it does it. The Chief Constable’s comments (attached) make clear his ambition to strengthen the force’s position, with an aspiration to move from ‘Good’ to ‘Outstanding’ in Effectiveness whilst maintaining that grade in Efficiency and Legitimacy. I have every confidence that through the Chief Constable’s leadership and the unerring efforts of his officers and staff, the force will achieve that goal. For my part, I hope the extra 180 police officers funded this year through council tax, plus the 200 extra officers recruited last year, and the ongoing investment in new technology and equipment will help the force on that journey.
Whilst the PEEL assessment did not include any recommendations for Kent Police, I am also reassured that the force has already, and will continue to make progress addressing the six Areas for Improvement (AFIs) identified.
Without every officer, Special Constable, PCSO, member of staff, and volunteer understanding that victims and witnesses must come first, that Kent Police exists to provide a first class service, and that ‘doing the right thing’ underpins everything, the force would not be where it is today. The PEEL assessment findings are testament to the fantastic job they do day in, day out and on behalf of the residents of Kent, I would like to thank them for keeping the county’s communities safe.
I am very pleased that Kent Police can be considered the best police force in the country. I am also confident the force would welcome the opportunity to share its experiences and learning for the benefit of other forces and the police service nationally. However, there is no room for complacency and I will continue to hold the Chief Constable to account at my quarterly Performance and Delivery Board for both the Kent Police ambition, and progress against the AFIs.