Across Kent, the latest ONS [Office for National Statistics] figures also show a fall in reported crime, following a drive by the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner for more officers.
Kent PCC Matthew Scott has recently come under fire, after figures for the first half of last year showed Kent had the seventh highest number of recorded crimes per population in the UK, and had topped the list in the south, beating even London.
This was despite Mr Scott putting up Council Tax by around £24 per household in the county last April in order to recruit 180 new officers.
Last month, the Conservative PCC told the Times that he expected that the next raft of ONS figures, which show reported crime numbers from October 2018 – September 2019, would show his recruitment drive was working.
He had said: “Communities are starting to see the benefits of these officers. I anticipate that the next ONS data, when it is published in January, will show that recorded crime decreased in Kent over the 12 month period to September 2019.”
The figures, which were released last Thursday [January 23], indeed show a county-wide fall in crime, with the total number of incidents down by 3 per cent on the previous year, with 6,160 fewer crimes reported.
Included in the latest ONS data is also a fall of 3 per cent in knife crime in the county, despite a surge in the national figures, with incidents rising by 7 per cent, along with increases in robbery, fraud and vehicle theft.
The ONS statistics show Kent to be one of only four force areas across England and Wales to record a decrease in overall recorded crime for 2019.
In Tunbridge Wells, the figures show that across the borough, total reported crime fell by 6 per cent.
There were 8,450 crimes reported in Tunbridge Wells in the 12 months leading to September last year, down from 8,964 in 2018.
Violent crime in the borough fell 7 per cent, with just 3,200 reports of violence over the year, compared to 3,455 the year before.
There was also a 19 per cent fall in sexual offences, and an 8 per cent drop in burglaries, although theft and fraud offences have risen.
No homicides were reported in Tunbridge Wells in 2019 (and there was only one the year before).
It is a similar picture in Tonbridge & Malling where the number of reported incidents is falling across most crime types with 9,643 offences reported last year – down 3 per cent on 2018 when 9,895 crimes were reported.
However, there was a 7 per cent rise in reports of violence in Tonbridge, with 3,838 violent incidents recorded last year compared to just 3,586 the year before.
Additional police having ‘positive impact’ as PCC asks for tax rise
POLICE Commissioner Matthew Scott has announced he intends to increase Council Tax to pay for even more new officers this year.
Mr Scott, who is standing for election as PCC again in May, says he wants a further £10 a year from taxpayers in April.
He said: “My last Annual Policing Survey attracted a record number of responses. What I heard loud and clear was residents were prepared to pay a little bit more for additional resources focused on neighbourhood policing, and on preventing crime and anti-social behaviour.
“With that mandate I am planning to add £10 to the annual bill of an average household, or 83p a month, in order to raise an extra £8.4million for policing in Kent.”
He said Kent will have 3,813 police officers by March 2021, with 181 more being recruited thanks to funding from the Home Office, up from 3,181 when he took office in 2016.
He will present his precept proposal to the Police and Crime Panel on February 6.
Commenting on the latest ONS figures, he said: “Burglary is down in Kent, criminal damage is down in Kent, and violence with injury is down in Kent. The drive to recruit additional police officers through increases in Council Tax is having a positive impact. I hope to see this trend continue.
“Some other crime types like stalking, drugs offences, and possessions of weapons continue to show year-on-year increases.
“This is evidence of additional support being provided to more vulnerable victims, and of Kent Police’s proactive efforts targeting gangs and violent offenders.”
But he added that crime data does not reflect the work police forces do where no crime has taken place , such as searching for missing people or crime prevention.”