Published: 12:00, 23 April 2014
Heated views were exchanged as people expressed their feelings about policing in Gravesham.
Kent Police Commissioner Ann Barnes held a question and answer session at Gravesend’s Civic Centre, giving people the chance to quiz both her and chief constable Alan Pughsley.
It was well attended with 70 people turning up.
Mrs Barnes was joined by Mr Pughsley to help answer specific policing questions from the audience.
A plethora of issues were raised including issues about domestic violence, racial abuse, the number of officers on the streets, confidence in the police force and crime rates in the borough.
The audience was asked to keep their points to general topics rather conveying a personal experience.
However this was often too hard for some, with emotions running high.
One woman burst into tears after her husband, who needed a cane to walk, criticised police behaviour.
The man did not want to go into detail during the meeting but met with officers afterwards.
A concern brought up more than once was that the same officers needed to patrol the same areas, to increase their local knowledge and put it to best use.
Mrs Barnes and Mr Pughsley were keen to convey they were doing their best to make sure more police were seen on the streets but said the force had experienced a loss of 500 officers and 1,000 other staff in the past two years.
Mrs Barnes also explained that police had a 97% accuracy rating when it came to recording crime.
She said: “There is no other commissioner in this country that can say what their accuracy rating is.”
Speaking after Wednesday night’s meeting, Mrs Barnes said concerns were similar to those aired at other meetings around the county.
Mrs Barnes said: “Here the same issues are being raised. It doesn’t matter where you go in Kent, it’s visible police that people want, local officers working in the streets and in the communities.”
Mrs Barnes said that the public discussion sessions were important because it gave “ordinary people” the chance to have their voice heard.
She said: “I want to know what their concerns are.
“I go out in my community vehicle each week. I’ve visited about 100 places in the bus so far.
“I want ordinary people like me to come and talk to me about their concerns.”
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