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Published: 00:01, 11 February 2016
Kent Police have been rated the only outstanding force out of 43 assessed by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).
Ann Barnes, Kent’s police and crime commissioner, said she is delighted the force, whose headquarters are in Sutton Road, Maidstone, have been placed in a league of their own.
A report, published today, rated Britain’s police constabularies for the first time on how legitimate they are at keeping people safe and reducing crime.
Mrs Barnes, who has championed a move from target-led policing to a culture of putting people first, said: "In all my experience of the policing world, I can’t remember any HMIC inspection when just one force has been singled out for a top-grading like this.
"This is unique, and great news for Kent Police.
"Since early 2014, when I removed numerical targets from the Police and Crime Plan, there has been a deliberate and successful transformation from a target and process-driven organisation to one which truly puts the needs of individual victims at the heart of policing in this county.
"Giving a quality service, with the consent of the public, goes to the heart of the ethos of public service.
"Of all the HMIC reviews that are undertaken, this particular one is the most important one to the chief constable and me. I’m delighted this work, under his determined, dynamic, leadership - with my personal 100% support - has been recognised."
Zoe Billingham, Her Majesty’s inspector for the Eastern Region, said: "Staff are actively encouraged to use their discretion to do the right thing.
"The widespread understanding and implementation of an ethical culture across the force is having a positive effect on the service to the public."
"This is unique, and great news for Kent Police" - Ann Barnes
Miss Billingham also praised the force’s use of Taser and stop and search, as well as efforts to support Kent Police staff – particularly those with mental health issues.
Mrs Barnes added: "Kent is one of the biggest forces in the land with very unique challenges, so it would be easy for the force to miss what is actually important – supporting and developing its workforce.
"I’m pleased HMIC recognised that Kent Police has not lost sight of that. I applaud everyone who works for Kent Police for this achievement and for this public recognition of their professionalism and commitment. Well done to them."
Ian Pointon, chairman of Kent Police Federation said: “This legitimacy test goes to the heart of British policing dealing as it does with consent showing that police officers and their staff colleagues behave consistently in a way that is fair, ethical and within the law.
"For Kent Police to achieve this ‘outstanding’ grade, and to be the only force to do so, is a testament to the hard work of everyone within the organisation.
“This grading also bears witness to what can be achieved when staff associations and senior managers work together. Kent Police has radically changed its culture from one of chasing pointless, numeric targets to one where police officers and staff now have the freedom to exercise their professional judgement."
More by this authorAnnabel Rusbridge-Thomas