Published: 12:00, 16 October 2020
Kent Police is to launch a dedicated unit to tackle violent crime and protect vulnerable people from exploitation.
The creation of the new Maidstone task force will see the force working with the borough council, trading standards and other organisations to target knife crime, drugs supply and anti-social behaviour.
Announcing the creation of the new team today, Chief Constable Alan Pughsley promised "shared solutions to shared problems" facing the county town.
The task force has been up and running for a number of weeks already, with teams working together from the Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) building in King Street.
"One of the main objectives of the Maidstone task force will be to proactively target criminals who seek to exploit the vulnerable such as rogue traders, fraudsters and burglars," Mr Pughsley said.
"By regularly engaging with residents, schools, businesses and local community groups the task force will also support the work we already do in bringing to justice violent offenders, drug dealers and those who think nothing of targeting the elderly or exploiting young and vulnerable people for their own financial gain.
"We know from other task forces, which have previously been created in Thanet and Medway, that by working together with our partners under one roof we can be more effective, responsive and ultimately improve people's lives.
"Pursuing a more joined-up approach enables us to provide shared solutions to shared problems. It will also allow us to clamp down harder on problems such as anti-social behaviour and illegal fly-tipping, issues which cause considerable harm and distress in our communities."
Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Scott, has welcomed the creation of the task force, which he says is being staffed by police officers funded by his decision to raise the council tax earlier this year.
Mr Scott said: "Bringing partners together to solve problems and tackle anti-social behaviour means we can make a real difference to local people's lives.
"We know the approach works from what has been achieved in Thanet and Medway. I am delighted that Maidstone is now going to benefit from its own dedicated task force.
"These officers are on top of Maidstone's extra town centre PCs who were funded by last year’s precept."
Martyn Jeynes, community protection manager at MBC, said: "We want to ensure Maidstone is a place where people feel safe and are safe.
"We are really looking forward to working with local communities to help understand their concerns and to utilise the strengths from within those communities and with the combined strengths of the task force, bring about sustainable positive changes."