Abuse, exploitation and violence are a crime and a violation of an individual’s fundamental human rights. The Force is committed to tackling these crimes and safeguarding vulnerable people from serious harm. The revised Force Control Strategy 2022/2023 highlights exploitation and serious violence and abuse as Force priorities, demonstrating its dedication to dealing with offenders and protecting victims and witnesses of these crime types.
DA is a key part of the VAWG strategy however it can affect everyone, men, women, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, colleagues, and friends. Kent Police is constantly seeking new ways to ensure DA victims receive the best service possible. The Force is committed to providing an enhanced intuitive response to victims of DA which will lead to changes in how some DA incidents are dealt with.
3 Month total
Domestic Abuse offences have experienced a 7.0% decrease, with 674 less offences compared to the same period last year. Notable monthly reductions are September 2022 (-247) and October 2022, they are also the lowest recorded months of the financial year.
Active Crime for DA remains stable, with an average of 2400 active crimes across the Force. Suspect Interviewed Rate has fallen when compared to 2021, falling from 35.9% to 34.2% in 2022.
The Charge Rate has improved to 6.9%, rising from 5.2% in 2021. There has also been an improvement in the Solved Rate across the Force, rising from 7.2% for the same period in 2021, to 9.3% in 2022.
Proactive Domestic Abuse Teams
These dedicated teams are working towards the new requirements and are delivering excellent results, working collaboratively with the DA Hub and Vulnerability Investigation Teams. They use a blend of data to identify offenders who pose the greatest risk and deliver a targeted approach to tackle their offending. Some examples of their excellent outcomes recently include:
A DA offender, career criminal with links to gangs and drugs, assaulted his partner and damaged her vehicle. The Proactive DA team gathered intelligence and arrested the suspect as he re-entered the UK. The team recovered a large quantity of cash, expensive clothing and mobile phones so secured the support of financial investigators. The suspect was charged with money laundering and subject to a confiscation order to recover the seized assets and the DA victim was safeguarded through robust bail conditions.
A DA offender was identified as ‘wanted on recall to prison’ following a series of burglaries and other crimes across the county. Extensive intelligence checks conducted identified an address where officers forced entry to find the suspect hiding in a cupboard and was arrested. He was recalled to prison and no longer poses a risk to his current or previous partner.
A Proactive team took ownership for over 10 offences relating to one suspect, including a serious assault on his partner. The victim was fearful and felt unable to support a prosecution. The Proactive team actively located the suspect, carrying out an early arrest and secured a recall to prison. The team engaged with the victim, built her trust and she agreed to make a statement. Officers presented a holistic offending picture to CPS who agreed the only option was to charge the suspect, thereby safeguarding the victim.
Domestic Abuse Hub
The DA Hub is operating seven days a week as planned. The skilled workforce provides a prompt video response to DA victims, utilising video technology and telephony to capture evidence first-hand, assess risk, safeguard victims and make referrals to a wide range of support services. The team have very close links to the Proactive DA Teams who respond swiftly to priority taskings.
Rapid Video Response (RVR) has attracted a lot of national interest and the NPCC want to work with Kent Police to promote the DA Hub as part of the policing response to the VAWG programme they are working on with the BBC. A three month evaluation of the hub has taken place with West Division having gone live in early October and East Division’s live date being brought forward.
The role of the proposed Domestic Abuse Liaison Officers has been paused whilst the Neighbourhood policing review and the Offender Management Project are underway.
Violence Against the Person (VAP)
3 Month total
Violence Against the Person has experienced a decrease of 5.8%, with 1,213 less crimes compared to the same period last year. As can be seen from the table above, there has been a reduction in offences in September and October, when compared to 2021.
When looking at where the decline is within the Crime Type of VAP, Stalking & Harassment has seen a reduction of 1060 Crimes for the 3-month period, when compared to 2021 and the charge rate has increased from 5.5% to 6.1% in 2022.
On 24th September 2022 the Home Secretary sent an open letter to all Chief Constables where she stipulated areas of policing that needed improvement and focus and one of these was homicide prevention. Kent Police has been working on their Homicide Prevention Strategy which has now been formulated and is awaiting final sign off before official release. The Force is considering relevant legislation and how to better utilise it to assist in the prevention of homicide. It is also raising awareness of new legislation relating to the Offensive Weapon Act 2019 as this relatively new Act provides officers with greater powers to seize weapons from private residences which were previously lawfully possessed thereby decreasing the opportunities for these weapons to be used in committing further offences.
The new Domestic Abuse Act 2021 provides police with the opportunity to issue a Domestic Abuse Protection Notice (DVPN) which will provide immediate protection following a DA incident. The new civil protective order (DAPO) issued by the court will provide flexible, longer-term protection for victims. A breach is a criminal offence carrying a maximum 5-year penalty. The Force has also benefited from the Homicide Working Group prevention work led by Kent’s ACC Simon Wilson. Homicide reviews happen routinely in Kent; however, these have historically focussed on the quality of investigation and improved response but more recently these have neem studied to provide an agenda of the future prevention of homicide.
Kent Police also take part in the Offensive Weapons working group which is a branch off from the Homicide Working Group and from this a Kent Problem Profile is being drafted to assist in the future. The Force has also implemented a homicide rapid review process and an Accelerated Capability Environment (ACE) which bring together organisations to determine whether it is possible using data to accurately predict the likelihood of a homicide occurring.
The Child Centred Policing Plan focusses on prevention of Child Exploitation and Child Abuse through drawing out policy implications from serious case reviews, national reviews, peer reviews and working groups. This in turn leads to suggesting, designing and testing adjustments to our policing approaches. The Force has invested in dedicated Missing Child Exploitation Teams for each of the divisions, in order to safeguard those who are most vulnerable in our society, working closely with our partner agencies in doing so. They also work very closely with other teams and departments within the Force to share information, such as the County Lines & Gangs Team, the Schools Unit and Youth Engagement Officers. In addition, the Force’s POLIT (Paedophile Online Investigation Team) continue to work tirelessly to pursue those offenders who again, seek to cause serious harm to those vulnerable.
The Force has a dedicated programme of child exploitation awareness training for all teams which evolve based on emerging data and enhanced trauma awareness information. In October 2022, following a peer review of Kent’s approach to CSE through the national Vulnerability Knowledge & Practice Programme (VKPP), we received our final review report. As an independent review, focus was on our current arrangements to tackle CSE and a task and finish working group will now be working through the recommendations, led by the Child Centred Policing Manager.
The Central Referral Unit are delivering training to front line officer with regards to the new CP/AP Risk Assessments process that seeks to gather a richer picture of children and vulnerable adults, identify and act early through partnership around adverse childhood experiences (ACE) and improve the quality of the voice of the child for police and safeguarding partnerships.
Op Makesafe continues to be developed in force, with work ongoing between the Child Centred Policing Team, Citizens in Policing and Community Safety Units and the guidance will be utilised by Community Safety Unit for test purchasing deployments focussing on underage sales of age restricted items. When Kent Police are ready to start piloting the test purchasing process under Op Makesafe, the Business Crime Group will be briefed to make them aware of the plans to proceed in testing awareness of child exploitation in the hospitality sector. The Op Makesafe Training Development Sub-Group chaired by the Child Exploitation Trainer for Kent Police has created a national training package for hotel staff. This programme is for the development of a national policing approach to identifying Child Exploitation in the hospitality sector, specifically starting with hotels. Following the completion of the training package, the trainer will take learning from the project and work with the Crime Reduction Project Manager to assess CE training needs across other business types and sectors for partnership CE training and engagement.
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) is 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. During the period January to September 2022, Kent Police have submitted 403 NRM referrals.
The Kent SCD MSHT team has recently seen an increase of staff dedicated to this crime type and are focussed on developing intelligence and proactively targeting those criminals and Organised Crime Groups (OCGs) that are involved in the exploitation of vulnerable people specifically with regards to MSHT offences. There is currently no established Organised Immigration Crime Team in Kent, although there are plans to create one and incorporate within the MSHT Team. This would mean Kent Police would take a far more holistic approach to these crime types that are intrinsically linked in many areas.
During the 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 the 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 the force continue to focus on the highest threat, harm and risk criminals/OCG’s.