Police resources come under scrutiny in Tunbridge Wells

POLICE REPORT: Chief Constable Tim Smith (right) meets with Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott (left)
POLICE REPORT: Chief Constable Tim Smith (right) meets with Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott (left)

The summer months usually see a surge in demand for police services as a result of increased travel, socialising and a return to the evening economy. But the question some Tunbridge Wells residents are asking is: Where are the police?

Malcolm Flanagan, 73, was attacked by a dog in Dunorlan Park, Tunbridge Wells, on Wednesday June 22. When he arrived at the police station in Crescent Road to report the incident soon after 1pm, he found it bolted up. “All three doors were firmly closed,” he said. “What do the people inside the station do all day?”

Malcolm is one of many residents who feel mystified by the seeming lack of a physical police presence in the town.

Back in 2018, the Times reported that a change in policing structure had meant that officers would be temporarily Working out of the Tonbridge Police Station in Pembury Road. At the time, the move was said to be a “pooling of resources”, and that the police station in Crescent Road would remain “open for business”, as usual.

This, however, has seemingly changed over the past five years.

The Tonbridge Police Station, located approximately three miles out of Tunbridge Wells, is still being used as a base.

Plans to sell the station were mooted in spring 2019 by Kent Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Matthew Scott, but he confirmed in August 2019 that the station was no longer up for sale.

Responding to a query from the Times, Lesley Ashmall, Communications Manager

for the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “The intention is to re-open the front counter at the station at some point. It is still an operational police station and base for local officers. There are no plans to sell it… From our perspective, it remains a police station.”

Andy Saunders of West Kent Police also said: “[The Tunbridge Wells Station] is
very much still a functioning station, with several teams including PCSOs based there.

“The front counter is still operated and people can attend and report issues etc… It may have been closed on occasions recently, due to staff sickness.”

Considering the apparent decentralisation of police stations away from smaller satellites, like Tunbridge Wells, it is not surprising then that in the latest Police Quarterly Report, it was announced that more people in Kent than ever were reporting non-emergency crimes online than visiting a police
station or making a telephone call.

In a meeting with the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) earlier this month, Chief Constable Tim Smith said that although the number of emergency calls
to the police has risen both across Kent and nationally, when it came to the responsiveness of the Kent Police, an average of 1.28 per cent of 999 calls were not answered over the year, peaking at
2.12 per cent in July 2022, and at 1.97 per cent in October 2022.

A significant volume of non-emergency contact with the police is now carried out digitally, with 246,519 reports made by email, online forms and on live chat.

Along with 999 and 101, you can report crimes on both Twitter and Facebook, although they are not monitored 24/7, use the Live Chat, give feedback or more at kent.police.uk/contact. Always use 999 in an emergency. 

Domestic abuse survivors in dangerous situations are advised to call 999 and the 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.




By Victoria Roberts & Michelle Wood

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