Home   Kent   News   Article

Kent Police's removal of schools' officers to fill other roles in neighbourhood policing shake-up criticised by councillors

A decision to remove police officers from schools will disadvantage young people, say councillors.

The force has announced it is standing down its 26 schools' officers while a new model of policing is being worked on.

The number of PCSOs is set to be slashed. Stock image
The number of PCSOs is set to be slashed. Stock image

In a letter addressed to school leaders, temporary assistant chief constable of local policing, Adam Ball, said the changes were a result of a consultation under way into the force's neighbourhood policing model.

The letter sets out how the new model will be implemented in June and, until then, dedicated schools' officers will be stood down, with only a small central unit remaining in place to support schools.

The letter reads: "This is a consequence of a period of intense recruitment, high-profile events and changes to demand, particularly those requiring a 999 response."

The force is in the process of looking at ways to save £6.7 million. One of the measures being proposed is cutting 232 PCSOs.

Officers have been moved around to bolster the force control room to deal with 101 call demand.

Cllr Tristan Osborne (Lab) said the announcement had not been welcomed by school leaders. Picture: Medway Labour Group
Cllr Tristan Osborne (Lab) said the announcement had not been welcomed by school leaders. Picture: Medway Labour Group

Medway councillor Tristan Osborne (Lab) said: “The emergency announcement by Kent Police to retrospectively reduce these teams has not been welcomed by school leaders.

"These teams were an important part of community outreach and specifically working with vulnerable adults around issues such as anti-social behaviour and drug lines.

"Many of these officers had developed important and lasting relationships with professionals working on the frontline and allowed officers to proactively deter crime and deflect people from destructive pathways.

"The outcomes of these engagements were tangible and the loss of these officers will be felt in years to come.

“These teams were redeployed due to resourcing issues at very short notice and we do have concerns about the current situation in north Kent with rapid redeployments and communications at present with the community.

Cllr Clive Johnson (Lab) says the loss of schools' officers is a real blow
Cllr Clive Johnson (Lab) says the loss of schools' officers is a real blow

“Community safety and working in partnerships are a critical part of good Policing and this needs to be reflected in any forthcoming restructure of services”

Cllr Clive Johnson (Lab) added: “The loss of the schools’ policing team is a serious blow to our young people and to our communities.

"Medway Labour welcomed the Medway Schools’ Policing Team when it was set up.

"At a time when our communities need the reassurance of an active police presence, building positive relationships with young people as schools deal with some of the social pressures of twelve years of austerity and the Covid pandemic, those policing resources are needed now more than ever.”

Kent Police deputy chief constable Peter Ayling said: "Keeping children safe is a top priority for Kent Police and the welfare of young people is at the heart of our proposed new model for neighbourhood policing.

Kent Police assistant chief constable Peter Ayling
Kent Police assistant chief constable Peter Ayling

"The proposals include the creation of new Child-Centred Policing Teams (CCPTs) for each district across the county, giving every school a single point of contact who would also work closely with other departments including the County Lines and Gangs Team and the Missing and Child Exploitation Teams to provide intervention and support for young people deemed most at risk.

"The CCPTs would consist of both PCs and PCSOs, and represent a significant increase in personnel on the 26 schools officers.

"Our schools officers have done a fantastic job supporting children, teachers and other school staff, and the proposed CCPTs are intended to build on their legacy and strengthen our ability to protect and build lasting relationships with vulnerable young people.

"They would also be crucial to delivering our Child-Centred Policing Plan, which underlines our commitment with our partners to protect those in society who need us the most.

"As a result of the Home Office-funded police officer uplift programme Kent Police will have 4,145 officers by March 2023, the highest in our history.

"The proposed new model will therefore also see 134 extra police officers moved into neighbourhood policing, with every council ward having a dedicated named officer."

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More