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 growing problem of e-scooter fires

The number of fires attended has more than doubled, and concerns are increasing about their batteries.

Fire erupts through the window and the smoke blows into the East London air, in a video shared on Twitter and Facebook that has had thousands and thousands of views. The cause? A fire caused by an e-scooter’s lithium battery.

There are growing concerns about fires involving lithium ion batteries, so much so that it was raised at the Kent Fire and Rescue Authority meeting this week.

Further evidence of the need to stop the sale of e-scooters has emerged after data I have gathered shows that we have a growing problem of fires caused by electric scooters. I asked all Fire and Rescue Services:

how many incidents your fire and rescue service attended in the calendar years 2020 and 2021 where the cause of the fire was an electronic scooter (e-scooter).

The response from the 33 Services that replied was very good in terms of their speed, effort and accuracy. They showed that:

  • There were a total of 128 fires where the e-scooter was found to be the cause.
  • When it was possible to be broken down by year, there were 33 in 2020 and 75 in 2021, with the rest provided for the two year period.

London has seen some of the most high profile incidents, with one catching fire on a train, leading to Transport for London banning them from their services. Their review found:

the incidents that occurred were caused by defective lithium-ion batteries which ruptured without warning. This led to fires that caused toxic smoke to be released.

Transport for London, December 2021

The London Fire Brigade had already put out specific guidance on the matter, pointing to issues with batteries bought from the internet.

These concerns are in addition to the increasing efforts of policing to seize illegally ridden e-scooters from our streets. Across the country, thousands of devices have now been taken away from riders.

This is just one example of the regular tweets being put out by Kent Police, who have been active in dealing with the problem. It’s fast becoming one of the top issues in my post bag and for others too.

For the safety of property, of road users and the riders themselves, we need the sale of these devices to be stopped. With increased numbers of fires and more people being killed and seriously injured this needs to end now – ban the sale of e-scooters.

Video blog:

Shocking rise in e-scooter fires
https://youtu.be/X9k8ErpFUpM

Domestic abuse continues to rise even as lockdown eases

Domestic abuse reports have risen in recent years and continue to do so during the pandemic.

Every Monday, I meet with Chief Officers to discuss crime and antisocial behaviour, operational issues, performance, community engagement and the matters that residents raise with me.

A key issue during the course of the last fifteen months has been domestic abuse and violence, which many correctly warned would increase in volume during the period of lockdown. There has, over the last five years, been an increasing number of reports made by victims to police of 47%. (Source).

I have been briefed this week that the numbers of crimes have continued to rise, with an increase of 9.7% this April compared with April last year. And in April 2020 we had seen an increase of 14.1%.

There will be a number of reasons for this rise. There is of course greater awareness through increased efforts to encourage people to come forward, both at a local and national level. This increase in confidence is a positive step, even if it seems like an increase in crime reports might be negative; it’s important because more people can get support from the police and others, especially if they have reported for the first time.

Other factors have been contributing to the increase – domestic abuse between family members has been on the increase for some time and locally we have new services in place to support victims of adolescent to parent violence. Crime recording standards have improved. And unfortunately, the nature of lockdown itself will have contributed to the increase as well.

We also discussed the landmark Domestic Abuse Act, which has received Royal Assent. This is an excellent development because for the first time we will have a legal definition of domestic abuse that is wide-ranging and delivers extra protections and support for victims. I will be working with Kent Police and the charities that I commission to ensure that we are all ready for the implementation of the Act.

Please remember, if you or someone you know needs help, dial 999 in an emergency. Information about support services can be found here.