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Sheppey and Faversham stations will stay open despite changes, say police, as Sittingbourne becomes operational hub for Swale

Police stock image
Police stock image

Police say there are no plans to close Sheppey and Faversham stations despite a major overhaul in how officers are deployed.

From next month Sittingbourne will become the operational hub of policing in Swale.

This will see neighbourhood officers reporting to the Central Avenue HQ before being sent out to areas of the borough to deal with crimes, anti-social behaviour and appointments.

Despite fears the new arrangement might lead to the closure of stations in Sheerness, Leysdown and Faversham, Kent Police has confirmed all will remain open and act as a base for local PCSOs and will be open to the public as normal.

Emergency response times will not be affected as they are dealt with by officers not connected to the change.

And Island neighbourhood Inspector Tony Cannon will remain.

Chief Superintendent Matthew Nix
Chief Superintendent Matthew Nix

Stating the overhaul is about “operational reasons” and not funding cutbacks, Ch Supt
Matthew Nix, head of the county’s north division, said: “We are constantly looking to improve the way we operate to provide a first-class service to our communities.

“The operational hub will help us tailor our neighbourhood deployment to meet the needs of the public and ensure we have our officers in the right place at the right time, protecting and serving the people of Swale.”

Ch Supt Nix added the new system was part of the force’s “borderless” approach to fighting crime which included the continued use of predictive policing.

An idea adopted from the USA and introduced to the county last year, “PredPol” has been credited with helping to cut street violence in north Kent by 6%.

It uses software which reads the latest science, maths and human behaviour data to show 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 an offence before it happens.

Ch Insp Tony Henley
Ch Insp Tony Henley

Swale district commander Ch Insp Tony Henley said as well as officers having to deal with existing crimes and prisoners at the Sittingbourne hub, the scientific system will play a large part in day-to-day policing.

He said: “PredPol allows us to deploy officers much more effectively. Using Sittingbourne as an operational hub, we can evaluate on a daily basis where the need is greatest for our teams of neighbourhood officers.

“This is a much more fluid and flexible way of responding to what is in front of us.”

He confirmed the changes, which will take effect in mid-November, will not result in any job losses.

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