Today marks the third anniversary of my first day in office as Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner.
I have been tremendously grateful for all the support I have been given by my wife and family, Party members, residents, MPs, Councillors, community groups and countless others in trying to deliver the change that was so needed when I took over in 2016.
I pay tribute again to the efforts of Kent Police’s Officers and Staff for the work they do day in, day out. Having seen it at first hand, I know that they are doing difficult, challenging and often dangerous things to help keep you and I safe.
And despite the funding challenges, being the seventh lowest funding per head of population, and me setting the sixth lowest precept in the country, they are rated as the best Police force in the UK, with more “Outstanding” grades than anyone else. Thank you to you all.
None of this could be done with the brilliant team I have working with me in my Office; they themselves recognised for a number of things like transparency, investing in volunteers and good financial oversight.
Reflecting on the last three years, I’m pleased to have been able to do so much. By the end of this year, there will be over 450 more Police Officers in Kent than when you elected me in 2016 – more extra recruitment than any other Force in the country. I have protected and retained 300 PCSO posts and pushed for them to be given the extra powers they need to address key community issues like antisocial behaviour. I’ve made it easier to report crime, by cutting 101 call waiting times and introducing extra methods such as online reporting.
I have increased the help available for victims of some of the most serious crimes, achieving more through better, smarter spending. I’ve also supported and funded the return of the Volunteer Police Cadets programme which is rolling out countywide for 13-17 year olds many of whom were considered at risk.
I have been pleased to influence the agenda on a national level, where I’ve directly been involved in seeking reform of mental health legislation and advising ministers on how it could be done to free up police time. I’ve had three visits from Home Office Ministers in the last three months alone who want to see the work that Kent Police and my office are doing. And I’ve been ensuring that as Brexit is rightly delivered, Policing’s voice is being heard and Kent council taxpayers don’t pick up the bill.
There is still so much more I want to deliver for the people of Kent; including reducing violence, increasing the visible policing presence in our local neighbourhoods, continuing my work to improve the support available for people experiencing mental health crisis and making our justice system work better for victims of crime.
It would be remiss of me not to point it out – in 51 weeks, we have the next election for Police and Crime Commissioner on Thursday 7 May. I will be making the case to be my Party’s candidate again this Saturday, and I hope, subsequently to the electorate.
I will continue to work hard during this time to be a champion for the needs and wants of residents, businesses and community groups, be a voice for victims, the vulnerable and the voiceless, and whilst holding the Chief Constable to account, support Kent’s Officers and Staff in the work that they are doing to keep us safe.
Thank you, all, for your support. I will always be grateful.