April already - can't quite believe where the time has gone since Christmas!
I'm busy writing to the Policing Minister, Nick Herbert, to invite him to the launch of our new initiative called STATUS - Stay Safe and Tell us - an online platform that will offer young people a credible alternative to Facebook. This is the first site of its kind in the UK and is every parent's dream. It's early days and Kent will officially launch the product in May so it's fantastic news.
It's interesting to watch the shift in how people are communicating with the force. The digital age is upon us and gone are the days of local police stations being the hub of information. There is now so much choice and I think the police have never been as open to communication as they are at the moment through social media.
We are at end of our financial year and despite the massive cuts in spending it's good news here in Kent. Crime levels in the county continue to fall, bucking the national trend, but for me the most important message coming from the somewhat 'bald' crime statistics is that there are fewer victims of crime.
We are on track to meet our necessary budget cuts and we will also secure the savings from the Winsor Part 1 report to add to our coffers. Winsor is the most comprehensive review of police officer and staff pay and conditions in over 30 years and there are interesting times ahead with part 2.
Unlike some forces, we did not factor the Winsor savings into our financial planning. However, it is looking as if we will have significant savings and I personally would make the case for using that money to invest in our workforce. Our people are the lifeblood of the organisation and we have already found the finances to run a small internal recruitment process for new police officers. The Winsor savings would mean that we could increase that capacity and open up recruitment to external candidates with new skills and ideas. We'll have to see if it can be done.
I'm also very pleased that the force has successfully implemented the new Kent Policing model, our new way of policing the county, with no adverse affect on performance. We have our hard-working and committed police officers and staff to thank for this. They have, from the Chief Constable down to the most junior person, all shown true professionalism and dedication during a time of such unprecedented change - we owe them a great deal.
Thursday last week was a lovely day which saw me on the football touchline watching a 'needle' match between Essex and Kent Police. Those who know me know that I am an avid football fan, so I really enjoyed the game - especially as Kent won 2 goals to 1 - nothing partisan about me!
This week we play West Midlands in the national semi-finals. Sadly I won't be there in person, but I do have my spies on hand to let me know the result. Come on Kent!
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