Keeping Kennington Safe
Posted on 24th January 2024 at 11:26
In his monthly report to the Community Council, Neighbourhood Watch Coordinator Peter New emphasises the need to keep resident both free from crime and free from the fear of crime. These messages have been a strong thread in Council meetings since the Council was created in 2019. Close relationships have been developed with the PCSOs and more recently the PCs covering the Kennington beat. Two campaigns against anti-social behaviour have been pursued and the Council support the Speedwatch unit which is active in Kennington.
More recently, the Council has added a strategic aspect to its fight against crime.
· It was the first local council in Ashford to invite newly appointed Chief Inspector Sarah Rivett to address residents at a Council meeting in July last year.
· It considered a thoughtful paper on retail crime in Kennington and how to fight it at the January Council meeting.
· It hosted a meeting with Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott on 19 January and the Clerk followed this up with a targeted discussion with Alan Dann, Business Crime Manager at Kent Police.
Mr Scott told us the programme of replacing PCSOs by PCs across much of Kent was driven by Government funding decisions. It is expected to be completed in September. As Peter New always does, he emphasised that reporting all crime is essential. It is crime statistics that direct resource decisions. We later learned from Mr Dann that the Retail Consortium considers only 4 per cent of shoplifting offences get reported to the police, a shocking statistic.
The Commissioner also told us that Kent Police has invested in a Gaming Bus. The Community Council is checking the availability of this to be a central part of a new programme of Summer in the Square for Bockhanger this year.
We also heard from Mr Scott about the growing importance of Special Constables who between them provide some 80,000 hours of policing across Kent without taking a salary. Specials are given access to far more training courses than was the case in the past, though not firearms training!! I listened in on a recruitment webinar recently and Kent Police emphasised Specials really are used in the same roles as regular police officers. Training is extensive – 15 weekends spread of 7 months. There is no fixed age range provided you can pass the medical and complete the personal safety training course. If anyone is interested in finding out more, Channel 5Star is running a series ‘999: Emergency Call Out’ or go to www.Kent/Police.uk/specials.
There is also a body of Police Cadets, along the lines of army cadets, who are apparently keen to volunteer in the community. We have passed details to the Kennington Summer Fayre who are always looking for new volunteer stewards.
In a discussion on CCTV, Mr Scott recommended local councils to seek deployment of the district council’s mobile system before considering purchasing a system of their own, though in town centres there can be a case for local council operating CCTV.
Stimulated by the discussion in January Council, Mr Dann is putting us in touch with the Coordinator of the Ashford Partnership Against Crime (APAC). APAC operates in Ashford Town Centre, at the McArthur Glenn Outlet and in the Eureka Commercial Estate to share intelligence on crime in real
time. It has had significant success and the Community Council will investigate whether its reach can be extended to support all retail businesses in Kennington to resist crime.
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