Published: 12:00, 24 June 2014
Policing throughout Kent is being revamped from today - with area commanders gaining direct control of crime-fighting teams.
Area chiefs for each of the 13 districts across Kent and Medway will now be able to directly tackle crime and anti-social behaviour as part of a new model for policing.
Newly-formed Local District Policing Teams will deal with emergency and non-emergency calls, investigate local crime such as assault and theft and be more visible.
Until now, officers responsible for responding to emergency 999 calls and custody staff were managed centrally.
Also, new community policing teams have been formed.
They will be part of the existing Community Safety Units, and will tackle anti-social behaviour and on-going local problems.
The changes are partly being driven by the on-going budget cuts that all police forces are confronting but chief constable Alan Pughsley said it would also mean more visible policing.
In Kent’s case, another £20m is being stripped out of the budget over the next two years.
That is on top of the 1,500 jobs lost during the austerity period in which public spending was radically reduced to curb the national deficit.
Kent Police Chief Constable Alan Pughsley said: "Local policing is absolutely fundamental to everything we do and is at the heart of this new policing model.
"Listening and working together with our communities to make sure Kent continues to be a safe place and giving the best possible service to victims were the commitments I made when I became Chief Constable.
"Like many public sector organisations, we have been carefully planning for the challenges of the second Comprehensive Spending Review and overall we have to find a further £20 million savings between 2014 and 2016."
But the group representing rank and file officers has warned there could still be reductions in levels of police service.
"This is not about new and extra resources; this is about trying to do the best with an ever-shrinking number of resources" - Ian Pointon
Ian Pointon, chairman of the Kent Police Federation, said: "The public should be under no illusions.
"This is not about new and extra resources; this is about trying to do the best with an ever-shrinking number of resources.
"This is about trying to continue to provide an excellent service to the people of Kent with a further cut of £20,000,000 to the budget resulting in even fewer officers, police staff and PCSOs.”
He said the number of police officers had shrunk back to levels last seen in the 1980s.
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