Why I’m voting for Rishi Sunak

As ballots begin to arrive for the Conservative Party leadership contest, I have been carefully considering which of the two candidates to vote for.

In the past two weeks I have had two engagements with each campaign – I joined a group call with Liz Truss and have briefly spoken to her campaign team; I also met Rishi on a group call and spoke to him personally when he visited Sevenoaks with local MP Laura Trott.

And having considered what I have heard from both, I have decided that I will be voting for Rishi Sunak.

I believe that he will be best for policing. As Chancellor, he provided the funding for the 20,000 new Police Officers and extra help for victims of crime. Programmes such as Safer Streets and BlueLight Commercial have been made possible. He speaks passionately about tackling violence against women and girls and child grooming gangs.

I was particularly impressed with his tough stance about drugs, which includes enforcement, making funding available for better treatment programmes and earlier intervention. I am planning to do some work about drugs, so this is a welcome position.

Where ideas have been suggested, such as making police funding fairer, giving PCCs more responsibility and tackling the backlog in our courts, I believe he is the most willing and able to make these happen. And he has allayed my fears about reductions in police funding going forward.

I have always believed in positive campaigning, so I will only set out the reasons why I will be voting for Rishi. I do hope, with five more weeks left of this campaign that we can focus on policy and ideas.

101 matters: why it’s important to look at both urgency and emergency

Serious crimes are being reported via the “non-urgent” number.

You’ve found the courage to phone the police and tell them what’s happened. It may have just taken place, or it’s a crime you’ve discovered once you’ve got home. Or you just need to update an Officer or crime report.

After we got Kent’s 101 performance on track and doing well, I’ve been told it’s slipped recently and I’m deeply sorry that waiting times have slipped. There’s work underway to improve them again.

You’ll have heard from senior Officers and others that answering 999 calls is a priority. And you can understand why if it needs an immediate response and/or the crime is in progress. Our call handling teams are frontline heroes dealing with serious matters and helping victims of crime.

However, something I’ve noticed from my inquiry into violence against women and girls is that a lot of serious crimes are being reported via 101, including rapes, sexual assaults and stalking. Not just a few, but a lot. 27% of rapes and a third of sexual offences force example.

With 101 waiting times a focus of public attention, and the most common contact point for the public in terms of volume are we giving victims confidence if they’re in a queue?

I’ve done some analysis of data from Police Forces on their 101 waiting times and the recording of four specific areas – rape, burglary, stalking and hate crimes.

From the 31 Forces that replied to the request, the average 101 waiting time was 3 minutes and 35 seconds for the whole of 2021. Some were answering within seconds, one force on average in over ten minutes.

I’ve been assured locally that the crime type is treated the same and goes through the same threat and risk assessment if the victim phones via 999 or 101.

I asked Forces about four different crime types and how many were reported via 101 in 2021 – rape, burglary, stalking and hate crimes.

28 Forces responded to say that 15,433 rapes had been reported this way. With over 63,000 being reported to Police to the year ending September 2021, that is a significant number.

Stalking data was again disappointing, with Forces saying they put it together in one category with harassment. But there were still 13,000 incidents recorded by 15 Forces.

The 31 Forces also recorded over 79,000 burglaries and over 38,000 hate crimes via this method, with one Force assuring me “call handlers prioritise 999 emergency calls”.

This may well be the case and the reasons well understood, but given the levels of crime being reported via other methods, 101 cannot be neglected, and an area that any future uplift programme should look to invest in.

How one team secured over 2400 charges for burglary and thefts

Criminals sent to prison for over 1300 years.

The Crime Squad was established from your council tax three years ago to go after burglars, robbers and thieves.

Here’s how they’ve secured over 2400 charges, #MakingKentSafer.

The Crime Squad covers the entire county, with more than 30 officers operating across several different bases.

Among its ranks are specialist detectives and police officers who carry out intelligence-led patrols to disrupt criminals.

The team also has its own analyst, whose real time monitoring of crime trends allows the team to gather an intimate understanding of issues affecting a particular area.

These working arrangements mean the Crime Squad is able to quickly identify offenders, and proactively target them to stop them committing further offences.

From the time they went operational, their investigations have seen offenders jailed for 1,318 years. They have also made 850 arrests, carried out 428 warrants and issued 2,415 charges.

Over the past year alone, the team has locked up criminals for 405 years, carried out 140 warrants, made 240 arrests and received authority to issue 535 charges.

This is your council tax in action. And they’re not going away – these crimes won’t be tolerated in Kent!

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How these two teams are making women and girls safer

Holding perpetrators to account for their behaviour.

I was in Folkestone yesterday, meeting two teams focussed on keeping women and girls safe.

They’re doing great work #MakingKentSafer by arresting abusers and protecting victims.

Here’s what those teams do and their great arrest records.

Meet the Proactive Vulnerability Team (pictured) 👋

They’re based in East Kent and were formed in May 2020. There’s ten Officers on the team.

They target offenders who breach domestic abuse prevention orders and other orders/conditions, and arrest outstanding suspects.

In their first year alone, they arrested 618 people and as a result recorded over 1000 crimes.

Over the 21 months they’ve been in place, they’ve surpassed 950 arrests, with a thousand on the horizon.

That’s perpetrators being held to account for their behaviour.

People who have already come to the police’s attention – being monitored and dealt with.

As a result, many have been charged with offences, recalled to prison, or imprisoned for new offences.

I also met the East Kent MOSOVO team. 👋

They manage sexual and violent offenders, ensuring that sexual harm prevention orders (SHPO) are adhered to and conditions being complied with.

They are achieving very high charge rates when they are discovering breaches.

When a SHPO is breached, they’re getting 73.5% charge rate, and that number rises with other positive outcomes.

And a number recalled to prison too.

These are just two of the teams dealing with #vawg, but show how perpetrators are being targeted.

The Force’s new strategy, which has been informed by my inquiry, will improve the response further.

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The team achieving big crime reductions in parts of Kent

Using your council tax effectively to reduce crime and antisocial behaviour.

How did we cut crime in parts of Canterbury by over 90%?

Or reduce some offences in Maidstone town by 40%?

Let me introduce to you the Problem Solving Taskforce, who are #MakingKentSafer.

The Chief Constable and I shared a desire for a proactive team to prevent crime and take a different approach to hotspot areas.

Using your council tax, new Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) were put into a team of 24.

The team uses the OSARA principles – objective, scanning, analysis, response and assessment.

The model assumes that by identifying and understanding the root causes of a problem or conditions that enable it to persist, the solution developed to tackle it will be effective.

Once areas have been identified, they work with our local Community Safety Unit officers and partners to take enforcement action and make environmental improvements.

They also provide visible policing in areas where long term embedded problems have persisted.

1. 𝗣𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗯𝗹𝗲𝗺𝘀 𝗶𝗻 𝗠𝗮𝗶𝗱𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗻𝗲 𝘁𝗼𝘄𝗻

Local residents raised concerns about parts of Maidstone town centre and nearby parks. The team achieved:

• 33% ⬇️ in sexual offences

• 50% ⬇️ in calls to Brenchley House

• 40% ⬇️ in reported crime in Brenchley Gardens

• 75% ⬇️ in reported crime at Maidstone Rail Station

2. 𝗖𝗿𝗶𝗺𝗲 𝗱𝗿𝗼𝗽𝘀 𝗮𝗰𝗿𝗼𝘀𝘀 𝗖𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗯𝘂𝗿𝘆

• 84% ⬇️ in St Stephens Ward

• 89% ⬇️ in offences reported on the Uni Campuses

• 93% ⬇️ in crime in Wincheap

• 92% ⬇️ in crime in Sturry Road Ward

• 77% ⬇️ in Assaults

• 86% ⬇️ in Drug calls

3. 𝗜𝗺𝗽𝗿𝗼𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗳𝗶𝗱𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝗗𝗲𝗮𝗹

Resident Perception Survey responses clearly indicate that increased presence in the area gave residents more confidence to report incidents.

Over time, the team achieved a ⬇️ of 26% in demand.

This team is available to deploy across the whole county and has achieved great things since it’s launch in February 2021.

Here’s to its continued success!

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The e-scooter experiment is failing. But limiting e-scooter speeds will not work

Why I would go further and ban all e-scooters on safety grounds.

The new report in this article by PACTs finds that 15 people have died in e-scooter related incidents.

They also found hospitals treating increasing numbers of people with severe head injuries.

I’ve been told this by hospital consultants too.

There are already concerns about the lithium ion batteries.

The number of e-scooter fires doubled last year, as shown by my own research.

Fire and rescue services are already giving safety advice on them.

Due to a lack of provision, people are riding them on pavements, roads and cycle lanes.

The hire devices are being left to clutter the pavements. This is particularly dangerous for vulnerable pedestrians.

Due to the vast increase in private e-scooters being ridden illegally in public, there’s more seizures taking place. And they’re dealing with criminal and antisocial use of the hire schemes.

Limiting speeds won’t work.

As with any electronic device, they are easily tampered with. So how do you ensure that every device is safe, and hasn’t been modified? Will speed checks be necessary to monitor limits?

Videos show that some firms are allegedly not keeping the devices road safe already.

On safety grounds alone, the e-scooter experiment needs to stop.

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