Next week is Rural Crime Action Week – a big concern for residents across Faversham and Mid Kent and one which I’ve been working hard to tackle this year.
As part of that work we had the huge privilege to welcome the Victims and Sentencing Minister Ed Argar to Lenham last week to talk about rural crime in the county. We were joined by local councillors Lottie Parfitt-Reid and Claudine Russell who have been campaigning tirelessly on this issue, as well as Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott.
It was a great opportunity to raise local concerns with the minister. Ed understands the issues we're facing and is determined that government helps tackle them.
This meeting is just the latest step on my campaign to improve rural policing, and follows on from two rural crime roundtables I hosted earlier in the year with neighbouring MP Helen Grant. We brought together farmers, local councillors, and police to talk about people’s experience of crime locally, and we've since seen some really important changes.
I know that lots of people locally feel that rural crime hasn’t been enough of a priority for Kent Police, and it's great to see the renewed energy they’re now bringing to it. Matthew Scott assured me that Kent’s new Chief Constable has added rural crime to their overall Control Strategy for the first time, put a new focus on preventing theft of farm equipment, and boosted the number of officers in their Rural Crime Taskforce - all good news for rural residents.
We’ve also had the brilliant news that every ward in the county will be getting its owned named officer, giving residents a clear point of contact and someone with real knowledge of their local area.
Nationally we've smashed our target to put 20,000 more officers on our streets since 2019, and have record numbers here in Kent.
I want to see that investment making a real difference for rural communities and I'm determined to keep this ball rolling.