New police tactics to protect people enjoying nights out
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A team of specialist officers trained to detect concerning behaviour is Kent Police's latest tool to help prevent sexual offences and keep people safe.
The tactics use a combination of uniformed and plain clothes officers to carry out patrols in public areas around nightclubs, bars and pubs, to identify people who may be displaying signs of predatory behaviour, such as sexual harassment, inappropriate touching, and loitering.
Plain clothes officers who identify this kind of behaviour will contact dedicated uniformed officers who will stop those identified and take positive action to discourage and disrupt this behaviour, which may include arrest.
The officers will be deployed at various locations throughout the county and will also engage with vulnerable people to offer advice about keeping themselves safe.
As part of the initiative in Canterbury on Thursday 7 December, a 20-year-old man was seen talking to a lone woman, who it seemed he did not know. He was monitored from a distance as he approached two other women, who then appeared upset. Uniformed officers followed and spoke to the man, who was subsequently arrested for a public order offence.
On Friday 15 December, plain clothes officers saw a 20-year-old man approaching women in the city's High Street. A woman he spoke to told officers he had made inappropriate comments and he was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence.
On the same evening, a group of boys was observed making inappropriate comments elsewhere in the city. The boys were challenged by uniformed police and warned they risked arrest if they did not cease the behaviour and leave the area, which they all did, getting a bus home.
Chief Inspector Omid Changizi, of Kent Police’s Partnerships and Communities Team, said: 'This new tactic, which is part of the national Project Vigilant scheme, is another way in which Kent Police is ensuring everyone feels safe when they are out socialising.
'The team is in addition to regular patrols and response officers, and also builds on the work we have done with licenced premises, such as the Best Bar None scheme.
'Our goal is to keep our community safe by actively watching out for and stopping people who might cause harm, especially in the night-time economy.
'We're working hard to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour from happening and make sure everyone feels safe and respected.'