Question 1: Can the Commissioner advise the Panel how he is working with the Chief Constable to ensure that the Kent Police estate (Police Houses, Stations and other buildings around the county) is being used effectively in terms of sustainable operational functions, community benefit and partnership working and that this work takes account of the needs of victims of crime and the views of local communities?
(Cllr Sarah Hamilton)
1. The Commissioner explained that he and the Chief Constable kept the Police estate under regular review. He noted that as visible policing was priority within the Policing Plan that considering a modern and collaborative approach estate management formed a part of this review process. As part of this collaborative approach, consideration was being given to sharing premises with other blue light agencies and there were already good examples of this working well, such as having Kent Fire and Rescue based in the Police Force Control Room (FCR), the Central Referral Unit at Ashford which had multi-agency staffing and Compass House which linked victim and witness services together.
2. Cllr Hamilton, as a follow up question, queried whether due consideration had been given to the future needs of the Force in terms of the expected growth in the county and asked for reassurance that financial gain from disposal of any estates was balanced again potential increased estate needs for the Force. The Commissioner confirmed that these issues were considered carefully, with a drive to balance public need against the cost of maintaining estates. He highlighted the example of Ashford Station where it would be more financially sound to sell the property and move the station but the community benefit of a centrally based station continued to outweigh the financial benefit for now.
Question 2: In the last Annual Report by the previous Commissioner, she stated that the number of police officers had been reduced by 518 due to reductions in funding during her tenure. In subsequent Annual Reports, there have been references to a desire to recruit some 400 police officers within 18 months, but the establishment figures would suggest that that target was not achieved. Can the Police and Crime Commissioner tell the Panel what the police officer establishment has been since 2009/10 at the end of each financial year and when will the objective of recruiting 400 officers actually be achieved?
(Dr Mike Eddy)
3. The Commissioner clarified that his announcement had been for the recruitment of 400 officers, which would mean an increase to establishment of around 200 (220 Officers need to be recruited each year to avoid drop in establishment figure). Providing the staff numbers as requested, the Commissioner advised that the establishment figure for Police officers of the requested period was:
· 2010 – 3787
· 2016 – 3182
· 2017 – 3261
· 2019 – 3452 (planned)
4. Responding to Dr Eddy’s follow up question as to the appropriateness of the establishment figure in terms of the challenges facing Policing, the Commissioner advised the Panel that he did not that the Officer numbers were high enough. He had supported the significant recruitment of Officers because more were needed and he would like to see even greater increases in Officers numbers. He was grateful for the support of the Panel for the police precept increases proposed in recent years as these had made the recruitment possible.
RESOLVED that the Commissioner’s answers be noted.