Our new Government has hit the ground running. As well as preparing for Brexit and investing in our frontline NHS there is also a very welcome renewed focus on tackling crime in these early weeks of Boris Johnson’s premiership.
The best deterrent to crime is to increase the perceived likelihood to criminals of getting caught and that requires redressing the balance between criminals and our police. The first step in this endeavour will be to bolster police numbers by recruiting 20,000 new officers in the next three years.
Our brave Police men and women also deserve to be supported with the powers they need to keep us safe. It is therefore right that the Government will allow officers to use their stop and search powers, still very carefully but, more freely to prevent violent crime. Furthermore, we must make sure that those caught breaking the law face justice and that is why more prison places are being created and increased funding provided to prosecute perpetrators of violent crime.
This all matters to us here in Kent where there has unfortunately been a significant increase in knife crime in recent years; which has been attributed largely to the evil County Lines drug running gangs. In Kent, we have already led the way in tackling this problem by bucking the national trend to recruit more than 250 extra police officers in recent months. This week the Government have also provided £1.1 million in funding to set up Kent’s first Violence Reduction Unit; meaning that officers can focus on bringing the gangs to justice.
I will be staying in close contact with our senior officers in Maidstone in the coming weeks and months to support them in crushing the root causes of violent crime in our community by also putting those extra officers to use on our streets; especially in key town centre locations such as Jubilee Square and Brenchley Gardens.