Last week there was good news on strengthening community policing. In Kent nearly 1,300 extra Police Officers have been recruited and trained meaning more officers available for the local beat. In addition, a new community plan for policing for our towns and rural areas is being taken forward by the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Scott.
Matthew met with me in Deal recently to outline his new rural and town community policing plan, as well as to discuss important local policing matters that have been raised with me at my MP surgeries, including pockets of anti-social behaviour across our area. This occurs as much in our villages as in the towns. In our villages misuse of off-road motorbikes and fly-tipping have caused a lot of concern. In Deal’s public spaces there has been concern over some incidents of youth anti-social behaviour. In Dover town, there have been reports of drug use and other issues in Pencester Gardens and by the Riverside Centre.
I’ve been working with Matthew Scott to look at how our local policing response can be tailored and bolstered to meet our community’s needs. Matthew’s new community policing plan looks set to do just that. There are four key planks to it. The first is to have the ‘front counter’ of Deal’s policing response open and for more hours. That will be a first stop and open point of access for Deal and Walmer residents. The second is a new ‘hot spot’ dedicated taskforce to tackle and root out antisocial behaviour. The third is boosting rural policing, which I know many villagers feel is too often not fully supported. The final plank is named ‘police officers for every ward’ – so that people know who their local bobby is, and their local officer can concentrate on the needs of their allocated community. These steps will be a real boost for our local community and rural policing response.
Steps being taken at national level for policing will make a real difference too. Last week new official police staffing figures came out. They showed that the Government’s promise to deliver more than 20,000 extra police officers across England and Wales has been met. There was also some encouraging news from official recorded crime figures. Official recorded crime figures showed a 70% fall in robbery, 51% fall in burglary and a 41% fall in violent crime since 2010. Overall reported crime was down 52% since 2010.
These are encouraging signs in the battle for law and order. It’s vital that more is done to strengthen community policing, as Matthew is seeking to do. With overall Kent police officer numbers now higher than 2010, now is the time to see improvements. I will continue to work hard to ensure that our communities right across Dover, Deal and the villages have the policing presence and policing response to tackle local crime.