Violence Against the Person has experienced a decrease of 11.4%, with 2271 less offences compared to the same period last year. As can be seen from the table above, there has been a reduction in all three months, with the most substantial reduction in January 2023 with 1144 less offences compared to January 2022.
When looking at where the decline is within the Crime Type of VAP, Stalking & Harassment has seen a reduction of 1427 offences for the 3-month period, when compared to last year.
The Suspect interviewed marker rate for VAP in 2022 has fallen slightly from 26.5% to 25.8%. Whilst this has fallen the charge rate has increased from 5.4% to 7.3% and the solved rate has also increased from 7.8% to 9.7%.
5.3 Child Exploitation
The force has a dedicated programme of delivering child exploitation awareness training across the county to all teams – including probationers, Local Policing Teams, Community Safety Units, Missing Child Exploitation Teams, Force Control Room, Investigation Management Unit, Analysts, Police Cadets and Schools Officers. The training includes raising awareness around being trauma informed in our approach to identifying and engaging with Child Exploitation victims and discussing the development of teenage brain in terms of behavioural development as a factor in understanding the risk to young people.
Kent Police undertook ownership of the national Op Makesafe project in 2021. The main objectives have been to develop a national training package for hotel staff that can be tailored for local forces’ needs through a working group of training professionals, to provide a wraparound holistic response in supporting hotels in developing an understanding of signs to spot around exploitation and what to do when they suspect it. This launched in March 2022 with Thanet Watch, a multi-agency approach in Thanet to disrupt Child Exploitation in hotels and during the pilot, 6 hotels were trained to spot the signs. Op Makesafe launched countywide in June 2022.
The force is working with the University of Kent on a project focusing on investigative simulation training for Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE). The project is well underway with pilot training being planned for July 2023. In addition to supporting the Child Centred approach in preventing Child Exploitation, this is linked to the VAWG priorities in relation to strengthening systems and improving the force approach to CSE in terms of identification and investigation. It also builds on the force AWARE principles which are: Appearance, Words, Activity, Relationships & dynamics and Environment.
5.4 Organised Immigration Crime (OIC) and Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking (MSHT).
Illegal entry to the United Kingdom remains one of the largest threats to the UK’s borders. Significant numbers continue to attempt to enter the UK via marine vessels, aircraft and clandestinely in lorries, hidden in purpose made concealments or in the boots of cars. Illegal entry into the UK is considered an organised immigration crime (people smuggling). However, there is a causal link between organised immigration crime and human trafficking and modern slavery. There are thousands of cases nationally where individuals have been brought to the UK with the intention of exploiting them, thus becoming human trafficking. The exploitation (modern slavery) can take a number of forms but is predominantly borne through sexual, criminal and labour exploitation, and domestic servitude.
Modern slavery and human trafficking (MSHT) are unfortunately prevalent in communities and remains a hidden crime that is not always easy to identify and tackle. Due to the geographical location of Kent, the county acts as a gateway to and from the continent which organised criminals seek to exploit through the trafficking and exploitation of those most vulnerable in our society. This crime type is often complex in nature, requires the support and co-operation from our partners and considerable investment to develop intelligence, investigate, disrupt those responsible for facilitating it, to safeguard those affected and ultimately to prosecute those responsible for seeking to profit from the misery of others. Predominantly the demand in Kent is linked to those exploited through county lines offending closely followed by forced labour and sexual exploitation.
Kent Police is committed to working with our partners to tackle this crime and is part of identified priorities under the Force Control Strategy. With the introduction of the Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Team (MSHTT), Prevent & Protect Officers and the implementation of a myriad of training programmes, officers have a better understanding and ability to identify victims and implement appropriate safeguarding which place them in an excellent position to combat this crime type going forward. This wider understanding helps ensure more victims are referred through the National Referral Mechanism, generating more investigative opportunity and ensuring those most vulnerable receive effective support to help them cope with the trauma they have suffered and eventually reintegrate with society. From 1st January – 31st December 2022 there were 1129 NRM referrals and 145 notifications under the Duty to Notify Scheme.
During SCD’s monthly Tasking and Coordination Group meeting, the Kent Analytical team provide a tactical assessment which includes intelligence and recommendations in relation to a plethora of crime types, including OIC and MSHT. This enables discussion to be had amongst SCD’s Senior Leadership Team regarding whether further intelligence development is required, and or whether an investigation is to be adopted into SCD. In addition, the meeting is a mechanism for relevant leads to ensure targeted activity is undertaken against appropriate criminality and that regular updates are provided across our SLT to ensure we continue to focus on the highest threat, harm, and risk, criminals and OCGs.
Kent MSHT Prevent and Protect team held its first MSHT conference in partnership with ‘Stop the Traffick’ recently. Over 150 attendees from businesses, charities and faith groups attended the whole day event, where they received upskilling, awareness but more importantly a commitment to make change within their organisation. This was done through various key speakers such as Stop the Traffick, Kent Police investigations and Porchlight but the highlight was a survivor’s story, where an individual attended in person to give their lived experience of being exploited and trafficked. The event received great feedback from the delegates. This proved such a success with the delegates that the department are already preparing the next one centred around the transport industry and how this facilitates MSHT. Again, this will not only be about educating but also to gain a commitment to invoke change within their business area and increase reporting.
Recently the MSHT/OIC Team have assisted Major Crime colleagues on a police operation which concerned the investigation of four migrant deaths in the channel, after the inflatable they were in got into difficulties. The team also work with other Government Agencies and departments to share and develop intelligence and raise awareness of MSHT crime. The team are also involved in several currently sensitive operations to tackle MSHT and OIC in the County.
Another recent investigation focussed on child sexual exploitation (CSE) against 25 victims from 10 suspects. The MSHT team carried out an intensive victim engagement phase with the assistance of tactical advisors from the NCA that have worked on similar national CSE investigations such as Rotherham. This phase led to the signposting of 4 victims for further safeguarding, and disclosures from 2 victims. This sensitive work was performed with a range of partner agencies and a supporting charity.
One particular ongoing operation is a regular proactive operation that works with partners from immigration enforcement and the rapid response team, alongside ports officers and the commercial vehicles unit to disrupt Organised Immigration Crime. The activity focuses on immigration crime, considers driver haulier safety, enforcing fines and increasing the intelligence picture for OIC. It is supported by the Multi Agency Hub and there are monthly deployments at specific lorry hot spot areas to conduct stop checks. Since the inception of this operation a combined total for Civil Penalty Fines issued is over £1m with 763 vehicles searched, the arrest of 10 individuals and 4 live migrant events uncovered.
The MSHT and OIC team provide tactical advice and operational support to divisional officers to upskill the frontline response to MSHT and OIC offending. Tactical support assisted in the execution of 4 safe and well visits to addresses believed to be brothels within West Kent, and the planning of 2 warrants in the North of the county at a fast food outlet being used for exploitation. Training has also been delivered across the force, together with inputs on the formal ICIDP course and the Inspectors and Superintendents Command courses.