Agenda item

Policing Update


The Committee were given an oral update on Police work in the Borough by Inspector James Beautridge from Kent Police.


The Inspector, Kent Police advised that recent statistics had shown that crime had fallen in the Borough; the biggest of which was cases of anti-social behaviour which had fallen 38% across Gravesham.


The Inspector, Kent Police further outlined the following key points:


·       Additional resources had been allocated due to the football World Cup being held in November/December 2022; highly visible Police would be walking around the Town Centre and pubs in the Borough would be covered by roving Police patrols. The Safer Spaces scheme had been promoted and early visits had already been conducted to licenced premises

·       Police Officer numbers in the Town Centre would be boosted at Christmas to combat any spike in retail thefts; a number of offenders were due to be released from prison soon and uniformed officers would be welcoming them back to the Borough with visits to their homes

·       The Community Safety Shop would be set up in the St George’s Centre in December 2022 and would be staffed by council officers and Kent Police

·       Kent Police attended a recent PACT meeting with Cllr Milner in the Riverside wards as well as a walk and talk event in Lawrence Square with Housing Officers which proved successful. Those events were held monthly in different areas

·       The Inspector, Kent Police promoted the ‘My Community Voice’ website and asked that Members sign up to it as it was an excellent way of getting in touch with Kent Police and reporting issues

·       Crime had decreased at the Promenade since it became more heavily policed with uniformed and plain clothed patrols at work there. Robberies had decreased since the summer as all three criminals who had conducted the robberies were in prison. There was still some low level ASB and drug dealing in the area

·       Recent funding received from the Home Office meant that there would be more uniformed patrols in hot spot areas

·       Weapon offences had risen but that was a good thing as it meant that the Police were searching the right people and getting the weapons and the offenders off the streets




In response to a Member’s question about unreported crime the Inspector, Kent Police advised that they were only able to go by the statistics for reported crime; the statistics showed that overall crime was dropping in the Borough, but it did not take into account cases of unreported crime. The Inspector, Kent Police agreed to share the crime statistics for Gravesham with Members outside of the meeting


In response to further questions from Members, the Chief Inspector and Inspector for Kent Police explained that: 


·       Kent Police drew on other intelligence for example, officers worked with hospitals to monitor any patient admissions that suffered knife injuries but hadn’t reported anything; that data would be compared with Police held data to ensure that nothing had been missed. Data was also gathered from neighbouring districts to see if Gravesham’s reported crime was lower than theirs, but Members were advised that Gravesham was statistically the one of the safest districts in North Kent

·       Kent Police held the highest crime recording accuracy in the Country

·       When a victim informed the Police that a crime had happened multiple times in the past then each time would be catalogued as an individual offence; there were stringent Home Office rules in place to record those offences

·       Kent Police were very active during Hate Crime Awareness Week; the Independent Police Advisory Group met and discussed hate crime awareness at length, and it was also discussed at multi faith forums with external partners. There was a lot of internal awareness and training conducted within the Police force with regards to hate crime awareness

·       Kent Police had a dedicated County Lines task force who communicated regularly with other forces such as the Metropolitan Police and Essex regarding County Lines behaviour and the sharing of tactics. There were dedicated resources at different Policing levels and County Lines gangs were a county wide issue however they had been reduced in Gravesham in recent years. Joint operations were conducted with the British Transport Police (BTP) to make intervention points such as Gravesend Train Station. The Inspector, Kent Police reassured Members that they spoke with a lot of different Police authorities across the Country and a significant amount of research was undertaken for their warrants

·       There was an ongoing investigation into the shops in the Town Centre that were selling illegal tobacco products and the Inspector, Kent Police assured Members that they were disrupting the illegal sales but couldn’t say more as it was an ongoing investigation

·       Public visibility of uniformed officers greatly helped to reduce anti-social behaviour especially around places like McDonald’s; officers had a great relationship with staff at McDonald’s and they utilised the GSAFE system. The Inspector, Kent Police advised that the upcoming Halloween weekend had additional resources assigned to it; the whole of the Town Centre Team and Police officers were on lates and would cover all of the Town Centre. Special Constables purely targeting anti-social behaviour would also be on patrol. Warning letters had been circulated to repeat offenders and children who were known troublemakers had been visited at their houses and warned in front of their parents

·       The weekend after, fireworks weekend, would follow the same protocol as Halloween weekend

·       Kent Police visited most shops that sold fireworks to warn them of not selling to underage teenagers and gave them posters with warnings to put up in their premises. Officers has also asked them not to sell large volumes of eggs or flour to any young people due to the risk of them using them for anti-social purposes

·       Officers also attended schools and gave talks about various issues

·       The Inspector, Kent Police encouraged any Members that wanted to join the patrols at the Halloween weekend to contact himself and something could be arranged

·       The Inspector, Kent Police apologised to Cllr Elliott as he had not been informed of the movement of the PCSOs in Riverview; a review of Neighbourhood Polici across Kent had been recently conducted but the results were not available yet. The Inspector, Kent Police assured Cllr Elliot that the PCSO list would be updated next week and properly communicated to all parties

·       With regard to an ongoing investigation in Riverview concerning motorbikes in residential areas, the Chief Inspector, Kent Police advised that he couldn’t comment on an ongoing investigation but assured Members that the Inspector’s team had dedicated a lot of time to dealing with motorbike anti-social behaviour. The Chief Inspector, Kent Police advised that he was happy to discuss the matter further with Cllr Elliott outside of the meeting 


The Strategic Manager (CSU) added that during Hate Crime Awareness Week, the Council worked with the Community Liaison Officers from Kent Police, the Gr@nd and other external partners and joined in a lot of community engagement activity. The Council provided a lot of merchandise and literature in the Town Centre to encourage the public to report all incidents of hate crime. Unfortunately, the Council’s Community Safety Unit did not engage in the week as they didn’t have the staff capacity this year. The seasonal CSP shop would be open though and information was available to the public to ensure they reported any hate crime during the World Cup.


With regard to reported crime statistics, the Strategic Manager (CSU) advised that she reviewed the crime statistics in the last twelve months and compared them to the twelve month statistics pre-pandemic and it showed that total crime had fallen. During the pandemic crime rates drastically reduced nationally, and as expected, crime levels started to return to normal in the last 12 months. The majority of Kent Districts and Medway were seeing crime levels return to their previous rates at a far quicker rate than Gravesham with the Kent average increase being higher than Gravesham’s.


In response to a Member’s question about the rise in domestic abuse over the pandemic, the Strategic Manager (CSU) advised that:


·       There was an increase in reported cases during the pandemic

·       The most recent data on domestic abuse cases revealed that there had been an increase in reporting of domestic abuse cases compared to the previous twelve months.  Members were advised that this rise could also be in part due to the significant local campaigning that has been undertaken to encourage victims to come forward and report their domestic abuse.

·       On average, most victims didn’t come forward until they had been abused thirty times so an increased reporting rate meant that more victims were receiving help

·       The Council are signed up to the White Ribbon campaign and has previously been the recipient of three years of Home Office funding to raise awareness of all the different types of domestic abuse including male against female, female against male, inter family and even some types of modern slavery which fell within the definition of domestic abuse.  The three-year project had delivered considerable partnership work to tackle domestic abuse and violence against women and girls, which again may have encouraged victims locally to come forward.

·       Gravesham is the only district in Kent that has a dedicated multi-agency Modern Slavery Working Group as an operational group of the CSP.  The local approach is being replicated in other parts of Kent as a good practice model.

·       A one stop shop for domestic abuse victims was being held on Thursday mornings where the public were able to drop in and seek out advice or assistance; the shop had proved very successful so far

·       Members were invited to attend the domestic abuse conference on 15 November 2022; the conference has been advertised on social media and Communications had worked hard to promote the domestic abuse services available

·       Cllr Harding had previously raised concerns for victims of domestic abuse who were hard of hearing and needed additional support to escape their abuse; the team raised that with the Domestic Abuse Partnership Board. As a result, some training sessions being rolled out in October and November included sign language interpreters

·       Unfortunately, the team did not keep track of the outcomes of cases or prosecutions, but the Strategic Manager (CSU) was sure the information could be accessed and circulated to Members if requested. Members were reminded that the most important part was that victims had access to the support services available and were actively using the services


The Chair thanked the officers for an information update.