Safer streets

Keeping our streets safe and secure is a key priority for me. That’s why I have fought to ensure we have enough officers on patrol in our community. And all the hard work is paying off. More funding has been secured and we will soon have 11 extra police officers patrolling our streets.

This news follows a campaign I led in Parliament for more resources in Kent. It helped secure significant cash increases from central government, including an 8.1%, £23.6 million boost this year. The result? A recruitment drive for 380 more officers. Another 147 are due from Boris Johnson’s recent announcement, meaning total Kent Police officer numbers will be up by almost a fifth since 2016.

After all the problems of the London police force with “Nick” and other false allegations, it’s easy for people to lose faith. Yet it’s important to remember that Kent Police is not the London police force – and that they have a strong record of achievement deserving of our support.

It’s also welcome that tougher sentences are being put forward by the Government. Firstly, foreign criminals who sneak back into the UK will be given far longer jail terms. Previously they typically got just ten weeks. People will know that cracking down on foreign criminals is something I have long called for.

Indeed, longer jail terms will be handed out more widely, with plans to scrap current rules releasing prisoners halfway through their jail terms. That’s important too – because sending a strong message to criminals is how we win the war on crime.

Tougher sentences are an effective deterrent. Look at gun control. Two decades ago we brought in legislation to stop Britain heading down the American route of rampant gun ownership. Today, this country has one of the lowest rates of gun homicides in the world.

We can see it from Robert’s Law too. I campaigned with Michelle Fraser, the mother of Robert Fraser, an 18-year-old from Deal who died after taking fentanyl. The synthetic opioid is 50 times stronger than heroin, and usually added to other substances secretly for profit. We needed our courts to recognise this particularly reckless form of criminality. We succeeded.

Robert’s Law saw the sentencing guidelines changed, so that supplying even small amounts of fentanyl is now in the top category. A few months later, a gang of three from Yorkshire were handed record custodial sentences totalling 46 years.

What’s happened since? Government figures released over the summer showed deaths by fentanyl have reduced for the first time in years. Just last week, our top police force, the National Crime Agency, heaped praise on Robert’s Law, citing the reduction and saying it “warmly welcomes the amendment to sentencing guidelines”.

It’s another lesson of why we must back Kent Police, both on the streets and in the courts. Only then will people have confidence our streets are as safe and secure as they can be.