With crime and policing prominent in the news at the moment, I was pleased to take part in the Give a Day to Policing scheme this year. This is an invitation given to MPs to spend a day with police officers out at the sharp end, to see how the demands on the police are changing.
I did two separate patrols, one on foot in Ashford Town Centre and one in a car around the whole area. For obvious reasons I can’t talk about the details of any individual case that came up, but there was an extraordinarily wide range.
In the town centre the officers were completely familiar with those who spend the days living on the streets. Some of them have real housing problems, so the police work closely with the council in trying to make sure they have somewhere proper to live.
At the same time it was good to see people approaching the patrol to pass on information. The officers were also pleased at the recent updating of the CCTV in the town centre, which they can call on to check reports of suspicious behaviour.
On the road I witnessed a wide range of issues that come up in a single day. The officers dealt with dangerous swimming in Conningbrook Lake, the use of Facebook for unacceptable abuse, and a tractor shedding its load of black beans all over the road, leaving it slippery and dangerous. All in a day’s work.
I came away hugely impressed by the work Kent Police do, and the calm way they do it. With 20,000 more police officers on the way nationally, Kent will have hundreds more officers to deploy around the county, and Ashford will of course benefit from this. At a time when so many people are concerned about crime, especially violent crime, this will be very timely.