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PredPol software which targets crime down to small zones has slashed north Kent crime by 6%

A tough Los Angeles style of policing - which predicts crime before it happens - has seen street violence in north Kent slashed by 6%.

Sounding more like a Hollywood blockbuster than crime-fighting in the county, the idea originated in the Californian city.

It has now been adopted by police here as a way of cutting anti-social behaviour, drug dealing and street violence.

Chief Constable Learmonth patrols the streets with two officers
Chief Constable Learmonth patrols the streets with two officers

PredPol uses software which reads the latest science, maths and human behaviour data to show the county’s top hotspot areas affected by crime.

Officers are then sent to patrol targeted high-risk zones - sometimes as small as half the size of a football pitch - with the aim of tackling crime before it happens.

Mark Johnson, Kent Police’s head of analysis said: "Every day the system is fed new crime data, which is updated to produce new zones officers will target each day.

“It won’t change the way policing is done but it will predict crime in high-risk areas across the county in a targeted way so it helps us police more effectively.

“We’ve had an intelligence-led approach to crime in Kent for the last 25 years; this new system does not replace that, but will enhance it.”

Kent Chief Constable Ian Learmonth
Kent Chief Constable Ian Learmonth

A recent three-month pilot in North Kent saw levels of street violence fall by 6% when predictive policing was introduced.

Kent Police’s Chief Constable Ian Learmonth said he was pleased with the results so far and is confident it will work across the county.

He said: “Instead of just doing a random patrol where we might come across or prevent a crime, the data tells us to go to a zone which is known to have recent levels of high risk crime and police there.”

It means more of a police presence in areas of Kent that have seen some of the highest levels of criminality.

The Chief Constable added: “The officers have enjoyed doing it because it takes them back to the policing style some joined to do.

“Officers are out, visible, doing foot patrols, engaging with the community, talking with the residents and they are dealing with the crimes they see as an added bonus.

“The public want to see visible policing on the streets; this allows us to do that.”

The idea is backed by the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner Ann Barnes, who gave the green light to the innovative project when she was Chair of the Police Authority last year.

She accepted that if crime levels are to continue to fall in Kent more targeted policing would need to happen as cuts to the force by the coalition government continue.

“When you have nearly 500 officers fewer on the streets you have to put your officers where they will be best used and the most effective.”

“It’s just ordinary policing but this targeted system will give a better chance of our officers stopping crimes taking place before they happen.”

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