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Do we need more police in our towns and villages?

March 6, 2020 4:05 PM
By Benedict Bannister

Benedict Bannister

The answer is "Yes."

Cuts by Teresa May and Sajid Javid saw frontline police numbers cut by 20,000. The statistics are clear. Crime has risen. Prevention, detection and prosecutions have fallen.

Increasing police numbers is necessary and will help. However, Even when cash arrives, repairing the damage will take years. Policing Kent brings challenges that need more than extra police numbers.

Kent is large, stretching from the edge of London to rural communities, small towns, villages and coastal communities. The issues are very varied.

What's needed is a multi-stakeholder approach, led by local police. Stakeholders include local communities, local businesses as well as agencies of local and national government, (the Border Agency is one example).

A visible presence is essential. Community policing, especially in rural towns and villages, must be central. This relationship drives effective prevention and detection. The public, shopkeepers, local farmers have to be confident that the police are present and able to respond to their concerns - that crime will be dealt with. Without confidence between the community and police, there is little chance that a multi-stakeholder approach will work.

It is fanciful to imagine that Kent police can address urban, County Lines, farm, wildlife, environmental, digital and heritage crime on their own. No level of resource would allow for that. Kent is too large and the nature of crime too diverse.

Policing in Britain, from the day Peel designed it, relies upon police agencies and the communities they served, working together.

Whitehall policies have seen this relationship under intolerable pressure. The answer to crime in Kent relies upon proper police funding and re-estabishing the relationship between the community and the police officers that serve it.

Benedict Bannister