Police chief to focus on mental health issues

Kent Police defy national trend by  recruiting 200 extra officers

Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner has pledged to make mental health the ‘golden thread’ of his plans to reform policing in the county.

It is one of a number of pledges made by Matthew Scott for his programme in the coming year, which include improving the accountability of the Chief Constable, an increase in the use of CCTV and the appointment of rural community coordinators.

All PCCs are obliged to publish a plan outlining the priorities for their force and setting out how they will ensure these are acted upon, shortly after assuming office.

Mental health is his main focus and Mr Scott said he would work closely with the charity Mind by using its Blue Light Programme – an initiative that provides mental health support for emergency services across England.

“I want to revolutionise the approach to mental health, to ensure those with mental health issues who come into contact with the police, for whatever reason, receive the appropriate support without taking up valuable police time,” he said.

“I also want to ensure officers and staff have access to the right support should they need it.”

The other initiatives Mr Scott wishes to pursue include conducting a feasibility study into providing a free school in Kent to help troubled children and ‘prevent them falling into a life of crime’.

Mr Scott also produced a ‘medium-term financial plan’ to respond to an overall 0.6 per cent cut in Kent Police funding for 2016-17.

He confirms the savings can be made ‘without any cuts to front-line policing’ and notes that Kent’s police precept of £152.15 remains below last year’s national average of £173.35, despite seeing a 9.6p rise per week.

Expenditure will include a one-off payment of £50,000 for IT systems which will track the health of detainees in custody.

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