10. g. Protect Young People and Provide Opportunities
Child Centred Policing
Child Centred Policing is at the heart of the Force Control Strategy and in October 2021, Kent Police launched the Child Centred Policing Plan which sets out the strategy for the organisation to develop and continue the journey of embedding a Child Centred Policing culture, enabling staff and officers to effectively talk to children, safeguard them and identify vulnerabilities through a 4E approach: Engagement, Early Intervention, Education and Enforcement. The Child Centred Policing Team consists of the Youth Justice Team, operational Schools Team, Child Exploitation Trainer and Missing Child Co-ordinator, led by the Child Centred Policing Manager. The team has a cultural remit of sharing evidence-based Child Centred practice throughout the organisation which has led to the launch of Kent’s first Child Centred Policing Plan in October 2021, setting out key child vulnerability priorities.
Version 2 of the Child Centred Policing Plan is planned for launch in January 2023 with an updated focus on Early Help, Prevention and reflecting on the success of the School’s Team in identifying and managing hidden harm. The vision of Child Centred Policing is to support trauma informed working across a wide range of professional settings and services to provide a consistent approach to trauma informed practice. This is supported by the Force working alongside KCC’s SPACE Matters steering group (Supporting People with Adverse Childhood Experiences) and Medway Council’s Trauma Informed Community of Practice Network.
AWARE Professional Curiosity e-learning supporting Trauma Informed Practice, the identification of Adverse Childhood Experiences and reflecting the need to improve the quality of Voice of the Child information capture will be available from January 2023 and will be mandatory for all officers. AWARE is the force-developed pneumonic to support officers in areas to focus their professional curiosity covering Appearance, Words, Activity/Behaviours, Relationships/Dynamics, and Environment. This pneumonic has been built into the new Child Protection and Adult Protection Risk Assessment Process.
Kent Police has a dedicated Youth Justice Team who are the gatekeepers for youth justice decision making for the Force, acting as advisors around deferred prosecution, out of court disposals and diversionary educational activity. There is a Youth Justice Multi Agency Panel Meeting held every week to discuss complex cases. The meeting is attended by several different agencies and aims to reach an out of court disposal decision whilst also identifying the most suitable intervention opportunities. Consideration of exploitation as a part of the offending cause is part of the panel criteria.
A Youth Justice Custody project is also underway currently where the Youth Justice Team have attended several Custody Partnership Meetings as part of their planning process for the youth justice custody checklist. This will be rolled out across all custody suites for Detention Officers to utilise when a young person comes into custody. The checklist will incorporate AWARE principles which will help to identify ACEs and any concerns or risks associated with the young person. These will be shared with partner agencies, if relevant, to ensure that appropriate interventions are utilised. This will help the Youth Justice Team to prevent reoffending and therefore reduce crimes. For example, if a young person is identified to be living in poverty or is misusing substances, the suitable interventions can be put in place to address these concerns. It could be that due to the above young person’s circumstances, they have been found to be Shoplifting. By addressing these concerns directly through intervention, the Youth Justice Team will be able to work towards reducing business crime.
Outcome 22 is a deferred outcome that seeks to provide an opportunity for offenders to address their offending behaviour. Outcome 22 will provide educational diversion to young people rather than No Further Action. This project is currently with Partner Agencies to adapt their reporting systems and working processes as they are supportive of embedding this into Youth Justice processes. Outcome 22 will include diversionary options which involve communities and businesses. This could be restorative work in the community or facilitated restorative meetings.
Mini Cadet programme
A total of 53 schools have enrolled in the mini cadet scheme since the inception of the programme which is a total of 593 young people participating. The programme continues to be supported by the Youth Engagement officers and the Mini and Junior Cadet Co-ordinator continues to be actively engaged, focussing on identifying further ways to keep the programmes rolling out across Kent.
The popularity of the mini cadet programmes continues to increase with schools now becoming more aware of its existence and the mini and junior cadet co-ordinator receives frequent requests from schools to be included in the programme to a point whereby a short waiting list has been drawn up with some schools now scheduled to start in January 2023. The feedback from schools continues in the same positive tone and schools are reporting ‘a massive difference already within the children’.
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 the 13th October.
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 established Mission, Vision, Values and Priorities of the Force and the revised Control Strategy for 2022/2023 work in harmony with the PCC’s Making Kent Safer Plan. The Control Strategy of the Force 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.