Be Visible and Responsive to the Needs of Communities.
Providing visible and local policing is at the heart of the policing model and remains a priority for Kent Police. Engagement is a fundamental part of neighbourhood policing and it is vital that the Force are responsive to the needs of the different communities by continuing to adapt and ensure the channels of communication are accessible for all. Each of the 13 Districts is served by their own dedicated Local Policing Teams and Community Safety Units. CSUs focus on prevention, deterrence and community engagement, working in partnership to problem solve local issues, particularly where there is vulnerability and community-based crime and ASB. There are now an additional 28 school officers working across 68 schools in the county.
7.1 School Officers
During the reporting period November 2022 to January 2023 the Schools Team have focussed on a system of triaging schools-based incidents and delivering key prevention messaging, while the full team is temporarily redeployed into the FCIR to support areas of critical demand in the force. The Schools Hub has continued joint working with the Violence Reduction Unit to roll out the Knife Pledge which is aimed at teaching children the reason they should not carry knives at all with the aim working towards reducing total knife related crime. It essentially empowers the school community to reduce violence and feel that they can speak up. The pledge has the commitment of 15 schools so far, which accounts for over 3,000 young people, with many other schools going live in the coming weeks, with the aim of every school in Kent signing up to the positive pledge.
The Schools Team have developed a learning package teaching about consent and sexual offences to enhance the understanding of young people regarding the types of offences that are committed, and how they can avoid becoming the victim and/or offenders. The learning package is aimed at dispelling myths about facts such as consent, what true consent is, informing young people how they can say no, and how they can identify the signs of certain offences developing, such as grooming and incitement. The package can be used to support the school and young people in specific circumstances, or wider to highlight how easy it is to become a victim. It also supports the Violence Against Women and Girls principles.
Officers are mindful of managing young people with trauma and planning opportunities for those who want to disclose anything to officers or teachers. Crucially they highlight the help and support available and to make them feel that it is possibly to come out the other side of any lived experiences. This package has been delivered to a range of ages and tailored to suit the particular audience at the time, ranging from year 9 students through to sixth form. Approximately 2,000 students have had this input across North Division in a range of schools with positive outcomes.
7.2 Mental Health and Section 136 (s.136) Detentions
At a strategic level the Mental Health Team continue to work to develop new and efficient working practices with a focus on the needs of the patient and the appropriate use of policing resources. At an operational level, the Mental Health Team take on investigative ownership of all reported crime reports and incidents from the identified venues of responsibility such as Littlebrook Hospital, The Bracton Centre, St Martin’s Hospital, Cedar House, Priority House, The Trevor Gibbons Unit, Cygnet Godden Green, and Cygnet Maidstone.
Training, deep dives, use of data via the new dashboard and partnership work has led to a cultural step change in the use of Section 136 powers. December 2022 saw its lowest month to date, at 55 S.136 detentions, as per the data which has been recorded since February 2015.
This has been an incredible organisational step change resulting in less police and partner hours dealing with S.136 detentions. Also, this process (and the fundamental change in the organisational culture of responding to mental health crisis) has enabled a greater focus on ensuring the patients are receiving the right intervention by the right service at the right time. Joint mental health training has been developed with partners, delivery of which is set to commence imminently, across all agencies that encounter individuals in crisis.
The continued use of the 836-advice line, which provides immediate mental health clinician advice for front line officers, prior to making decisions to detain individuals, remains an essential part of this process. The current timeline for launch of the NHS 111 Mental Health option is still set for March / April 2023 and it is hoped that this will further alleviate the burden on frontline police response teams and the Force Control and Incident Response.
7.3 Special Constabulary
The Special Constabulary reduced in number over the reporting period of November 2022 to January 2023, with continuing changes in personal circumstances and others joining the regular force. At the end of December 2022, total numbers of Special Constables (SC) stood at 245, with 103 of those independent. During this period SCs contributed 14,630 hours of policing and carried out various events and operations, including take over days and community safety work on all Divisions. SCs also continued to feed into the national Police Constable uplift programme, with the closing date set as 15th January 2023.
New SC recruitment images have been created by the force photographer with a renewed planned SC recruitment drive in early 2023. Eight Special Constables have been involved and were photographed in public areas, engaging with the public about their role over the course of two days.
The SC Awards night was held at the Ashford International Hotel in December 2022, celebrating achievements of SC and Citizens In Policing (CIP) supporters over the past 3 years. The evening was attended by over 200 people and there was much delight at finally being able to hold the event after the pandemic and the next event is booked for 21st December 2023.
Police Support Volunteers (PSV)
The number of volunteers is stabilising but vetting continues to be a challenge for recruitment as Police Officer vetting has been understandably a priority. Going forward a more diverse Police Support Volunteer role is being created based on the Zenith plans and taking into consideration the changes to police stations and the staff working within them. We now have over 105 PSVs working with Kent Police and it is hoped PSV numbers will remain stable for the foreseeable future. The force has also been undertaking some work to identify how Neighbourhood Watch can work more closely with My Community Voice to further increase the communication channels.
Community Speedwatch (CSW)
In 2022 30,673 vehicles were detected by CSW exceeding the limit with 9,719 letters being sent to drivers. 121 vehicle owner addresses were attended where officers spoke to the driver for 4 incidents of speeding and there were 45 occasions where drivers exceeded the speed limit on 5 or more occasions. There have been 824 untaxed vehicles observed, with details passed to DVLA and 771 with an expired MOT. 93.52% of vehicles observed by CSW and sent advice letters were not detected exceeding the speed limit on a second occasion demonstrating the system is a good deterrence, helping to keep Kent’s roads safe.
Community Police Volunteers (CPVs)
This remains a very active and interesting strand of volunteering with more roles and opportunities are being explored. The roles are varied, allowing volunteers the possibility of working with Kent Police whilst undertaking work they enjoy in their private lives. An example is the expansion of the therapy dogs that have been deployed in schools and around the force. This has been well received and positive feedback has been received from departments requesting them. Equine volunteers are also now deployed and starting to make an impression on rural communities and there is also interest for the Joint Response Unit (JRU) and drone pilots with the JRU deployed every day. This will offer more flexibility in the type of officers that are deployed and allow more hours to be undertaken. The force has nearly 100 volunteers and an average 800 hours per month is now being undertaken.