Published: 00:01, 28 July 2017
A town is vowing to get tough with crime and anti-social behaviour in order to reassure shoppers and visitors to the town centre.
A crack team of marshals have been recruited to keep the peace in Maidstone's public spaces, including Jubilee Square and Brenchley Gardens.
The four-strong group will be police trained and will be on patrol from noon to 5pm, which has been identified as a problem time.
It is the idea of One Maidstone, which aims to encourage business, and hopes to reassure shoppers and visitors the town is a safe and nice place to be.
The move follows successful trials of late-night wardens, who have track records in calming volatile, booze-fuelled situations.
The taxi-marshals will continue to operate for two hours every Saturday night, and there are four night-time wardens working every payday weekend.
The new daytime wardens will keep an eye on Jubilee Square and Brenchley Gardens in particular, both of which have become a focus of rowdy behaviour.
Four wardens, wearing high-visibility jackets and distinctive baseball caps, will be on shift together, between noon and 5pm, two in each location.
They have been engaged initially for four days in August and one in September, starting on August 1.
All the marshals and wardens and being funded via an £8,000 grant from the Police and Crime Commissioner.
All the officers will hold a Security Industry Authority licence and will also have additional training from the police.
In a separate move, from mid-August, the Crimestoppers charity has reached an agreement with The Mall to display images of Kent Police’s “Most Wanted” criminals on a big screen in King Street shopping centre, in the hope the public will give tips on where the offenders can be found.
A third initiative will see business owners invited to a counter-terrorism training course at the Odeon cinema in Lockmeadow by the Government’s National Counter Terrorism Security Office.
The course is not in response to any specific threat to Maidstone, but is part of Project Griffin, a campaign to enhance public safety by raising awareness.
Meanwhile police are re-organising their Police Community Support Officers.
From now on, some PCSOs will be given specific roles for dealing with vulnerable adults, youth engagement, missing child exploitation and domestic abuse.
While this should give enhanced service in those areas, parish councils have been warned of “a temporary shortfall” of PCSOs. Police want to fill the vacancies by September.
In the event of difficulties raising a PCSO, there is a single point of contact for the villages – PCSO Alan Hunter on firstname.lastname@example.org
More by this authorAlan Smith