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“Policing is experiencing unprecedented times” is a phrase that has never been more accurate. As well as the policing challenges presented by the COVID pandemic and the EU transition, recent years have seen increases in knife crime, high-harm crime such as robbery, serious assault, domestic abuse and rape as well as rises in fraud, cyber enabled crime and traditional offences. In addition, changes in the way we record crime has seen a large increase in the overall number of crimes recorded. We have a better understanding of under-recorded, hidden demand such as human trafficking and modern-day slavery and identification of vulnerability is critical in delivering the best service possible.
We have been consistent and clear in our objectives over the last ten years. Our mission is to provide a first-class service, protecting and serving the people of Kent. Our priority is always to put victims and witnesses at the heart of all we do. These are the foundations of our culture and values and are more important than ever.
As with all forces, we experienced reductions in funding and officer numbers because of the financial climate of the last decade, however, we took the most positive and progressive approach possible, introducing nationally recognised changes to our culture, policing model and most recently the introduction of the Quality Policing Programme.
In these challenging times and with rapidly changing technology, we recognise that we must always seek to change and improve the service we provide. This new strategy is essential to our core values and sets out our commitment to victims and witnesses, our undertaking to deliver the best service possible, working together with partners, seeking to fulfil our mission and ensuring we deliver against our priorities.
Now, more than ever, it is vital that victims and witnesses can access services easily, conveniently, and are not discouraged from reporting crime through fear or worry, lack of understanding, effective communication or previous poor experience of the criminal justice system. It is essential that we provide our officers with the knowledge and understanding to carry-out their duties to victims and witnesses with professionalism and positivity, building trust and confidence. As our service focuses on harm and vulnerability, we recognise that victims and witnesses are individuals with different needs and expectations. We need to ensure we fully understand what each individual needs in order to be able to provide the practical and emotional support required. This means focusing on values and quality of service. The service we provide is not just about what we do, but how we do it. We must ensure that every contact we have with a victim or witness is the best it can be and guard against it becoming transactional. It is crucial that victims of crime are treated with compassion, understanding, and are provided with the support and guidance needed for their criminal justice journey.
As such, this strategy’s aims are clear and reflect the national position: