The force Child Centred Policing (CCP) Plan sets the direction for how the force engages with children and young people, with a focus on early intervention around crime and exploitation. The first plan launched in October 2021 and an updated version reflecting updated priorities in line with the Kent Police Control Strategy, PCC’s Making Kent Safer Plan and Kent Violence Against Women & Girls Plan is planned for March 2023. The CCP Plan is overseen and driven through the force Child Centred Policing Manager, acting as a critical friend for both Kent Police, OPCC and partners in respect of CCP matters. The plan and activity is delivered throughout the organisation and through some specialists Child Centred roles, reflecting the necessary skill set required to build rapport with children and the complexity or risk around young people.
The national Child Centred Policing objectives for 2022-2025 include:
Upholding the law firmly and fairly in respect of youth offending
Improve the experience and outcome of young people in police custody
Capture best practice of police in schools
Allow the voices of young people to be heard within police practice
Promote policing as a career and provide life and work skills for young people
9.2 Operation Encompass and Voice of the Child
Working with the Central Referral Unit, the new child protection and adult protection risk assessment process, utilising the AWARE principle to develop professional curiosity, launched on 9th January 2023. This new process incorporates Op Encompass to ensure all relevant referrals are sent into the Central Referral Unit.
The AWARE Professional Curiosity e-learning package focusses on the importance of being curious in identifying vulnerability and is in design due for launch by 8th February 2023. This supports the need to record voice of the child and directs officers to observe and record against Appearance, Words, Activity & Behaviours, Relationships & Dynamics and Environment (AWARE). This will be an element within the planned Voice of the Child Toolkit for officers and staff, bringing all guidance regarding vulnerability and children in one place for them to access. The force is also engaged with the OPCC Youth Prevention commissioning service which aims to provide consistent prevention messaging within schools.
9.3 Youth Justice.
The force has a dedicated Youth Justice Team who are the gatekeepers for youth justice decision making for the force, acting as advisors for deferred prosecution, out of court disposals and diversionary educational activity.
The Youth Justice Team hold a multi-agency meeting, the Youth Justice Multi Agency Panel Meeting every Tuesday to discuss cases with complexities. Multiple agencies such as KCC Youth Justice, Early Help, Medway Youth Offending Team, ‘We Are With You’ and Restorative Solutions attend these meetings. The meeting aims to reach a mutual Out of Court Disposal decision whilst also identifying opportunities for suitable intervention. Possible exploitation is also considered as a reason for offending as part of the meeting.
In November 2022, 40 Early Help Workers were trained in the Youth Justice process which aided their understanding towards exploitation. As part of our training input, the force provided education around Adverse Childhood Experiences. Improving partnership relationships through training allows a more coordinated approach when aiming to reduce exploitation of children.
The Youth Justice Team is also working on a custody project whereby a checklist has been created by the team alongside colleagues working in custody, which will be utilised when a young person comes into custody. The checklist will identify risks of exploitation so that the young person can be appropriately safeguarded by Police and Partner Agencies.
9.4 Use of Powers
The Children’s Commissioner Dame Rachel de Souza wrote to all Chief Constables in October 2022 requesting data on the number of children strip searched (Exposure of Intimate Parts – EIP) by each Force in the period 2018 to 2022 following a stop and search encounter. The request for statutory information is being made under Dame de Souza’s powers as per Section 2F of the Children Act 2004. An EIP search is the correct legal term for this type of search, not a strip search, which is articulated within the correspondence from the Children’s Commissioner.
The request from the Children’s Commissioner has followed on from a request made to the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) in the aftermath of the Child Q report. Dame de Souza authored a report having received the data provided by MPS. Concerns have been raised in relation to the EIP searches of juveniles and the direct impact they have on young persons’ emotional wellbeing and trust in the Police service. The report highlights that in 23% of searches no Appropriate Adult (AA) was present. In addition, it states a disproportionate number of children searched are from an ethnic minority background, particularly young black male children.
Kent Police policies detail clearly how stop and search, including EIP searches are to be conducted by officers. An EIP search as part of a stop search encounter involving a juvenile requires the following:
Must be done out of public view (Police Station, building, not in a vehicle).
Searching officers must be of same sex.
Following consultation with a supervisor (prior to search).
Must be conducted in accordance with PACE code A para 3.7 and PACE code C Annex A paragraph 11.
Must take place in presence of Appropriate Adult (AA).
Body Worn Video (BWV) must be in use whilst conducting the searches however it will be used to record sound only whilst an EIP search is taking place. The use of AA must take place in all scenarios but as the juvenile gets nearer to adulthood, they do not have to be physically present for the search.
As the EIP search is conducted as part of a stop search encounter a record of the search will be created on the Mobile First application. Following the submission of this by the searching officer there is a requirement for their supervisor to review the record, quality assure the encounter and detail within. The key elements of this process will check for lawfulness, professionalism, and ethical behaviour. For an EIP search the supervisor will have been contacted prior to the search taking place to ensure that they are content with the circumstances and that the requirement to have an AA present has been addressed. As part of this process the supervisor should review the BWV from the stop search encounter such is the potential impact on the juvenile and wider trust and confidence in policing.
The use of Stop and Search is one of the key areas monitored through the Policing Powers Strategic Board chaired by ACC Brookes. Activity is discharged through the Policing Powers Tactical Board chaired by Supt Quiller which meet quarterly or by exception. As part of this oversight and monitoring process, key internal stakeholders have nominated operational leads who attend this board. Divisional, Crime Command and Tactical Operations leads are required to co-ordinate the review and quality assurance of 20 random stop search encounters each month as identified by the Central Analytical Team. The results of the reviews are shared across each command and the Force through the Tactical Board with membership included from the Staff Safety Training Unit, Professional Standards Department, Custody and the Diversity and Inclusion Academy.
Within the custody environment at a Police Station and post arrest of a person an EIP search is governed by PACE and Policy. The authority for EIP search in custody requires an Inspectors authority for juveniles. The Custody Command have a robust process in place to govern EIP in custody and monitor this as part of monthly reviews to ensure they are complying with Policy.
January 2023 saw a review and update to the SOP for Stop and Search. Key updates from the revision include the introduction of GOWISELY-R, with the R standing for respect; increased level of authority required for an EIP search of a juvenile, from Sergeant to Inspector and the requirement of supervisors to review BWV of the encounter as part of the process for stop and search record approval.
The Policing Powers IPAG sits quarterly and is chaired by the Kent Police IPAG Chair Mr Colin Burton and it reviews stop search encounters and use of force incidents. Panel members are vetted members of the community and representatives from across the force attend the meetings as well as Supt QUILLER (chair of Policing Powers Tactical Board). The IPAG is intending to take the meeting to various locations around the county to encourage participation from both the local community and local policing teams/units.
The Race Action Plan is considered through all stands of the Policing Powers Board and IPAG and looks at the demographics of stop and search encounters and whether there are any identifiable trends to monitor or address. The disproportionality apparent in the EIP data from 2018 – 2022 is subject to this scrutiny.
9.5 Cadets Programme.
Mini Cadet programme.
The mini cadet programme resumed in September 2022 with a further 8 schools joining the programme in September and then 5 more in January 2023. Once the neighbourhood review has been completed, the Child Centred Policing PCSOs will be encouraged to engage more schools into the programme with the aim of expansion as it is a popular programme with the children and parents. Planning commenced on the Junior Cadet programme in December too with a view to running a pilot in April 2023.
Senior Cadet programme.
The Senior Cadet programme has now fully recovered from the aftermath of the pandemic with the numbers increasing in September to 420 with a view to approximately 450 by the year end. The waiting list is 294 now and it has become necessary to close the majority of waiting lists due to the number of young people waiting, to enable the Force to appropriately manage expectations. Improved engagement is evident across all units with refreshed enthusiasm following the September new intakes.
The Duke of Edinburgh programme continues to gain momentum with a total of 66 young people now registered with two training days and expeditions that have now successfully been completed.
Likewise, the CVQO programme has also seen an increase in numbers and a renewed interest in this qualification.
During the summer period cadets took part in various activities including a Football Tournament, two days at Bewl Water and a trip to the Ninja Warriors park. They also assisted with the training of probationary officers by taking part in numerous role plays over the summer holidays. They continue to be active in communities across the county assisting with summer fetes, Paws in the Park and Leaflet drops. Cadets also assisted with the PCC’s Blue Light Job fair and in September 142 Cadets passed out over two days.
In October, the first ever Kent Police Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet was appointed and commenced his duties on 13th October 2022.
Cadet Transition Pathway.
Support continues to be available for cadets wishing to join Kent Police in any capacity and there are currently 35 previous cadets now working for Kent Police as either Police Officers, Special Constables, PCSOs or PSEs. The Transition Pathway is due to be relaunched in 2023.
In summary, the revised Control Strategy for 2022/2023 works in harmony with the PCC’s Making Kent Safer Plan as it focusses heavily on a Violence Against Women and Girls strategy with child centred policing woven through all the crime types, ensuring the voice of the child is always heard. The Force is operating effectively but absolutely recognises the need to continuously improve and develop, in order to provide the very best quality service to all those who live in, work and visit Kent.