Kent chief constable Alan Pughsley remodels policing

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Media captionNew teams are being set up to provide a better connection with communities

Changes have been unveiled at Kent Police in a bid to enhance local policing and help make savings of £20m.

Officers who respond to 999 calls will be managed by district commanders and new teams are being set up to provide a better connection with communities.

The Police Federation welcomed local policing but said resources had shrunk.

Police and crime commissioner (PCC) Ann Barnes was not at the launch. Her office said she had been briefed about the policing model and supported it.

Earlier this year, chief constable Alan Pughsley said a further £20m of cuts to the force's budget would see the loss of 100 officers, but a redesigned policing model would give Kent Police the best chance of keeping the service at is was.

'Position still strong'

Under the new model launched on Tuesday, a local district policing team will be created in each of Kent Police's districts to deal with emergency and non-emergency calls and investigate local crime.

Community policing teams will tackle anti-social behaviour and persistent local problems.

Mr Pughsley said each district would be supported by detectives and other specialist units.

He said: "Putting resources at the disposal of our district commanders and giving them the control of officers in their area will provide better local policing for our communities.

"Overall we have to make savings of £20m over the next two years, but thanks to our careful planning, we remain in a strong position to deliver this new operational model."

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Image caption Ian Pointon welcomed the introduction of community teams but said resources were shrinking

Operational matter

Ian Pointon, chairman of Kent Police Federation, welcomed the introduction of community policing teams and local control of visible resources.

But he said: "This is not about new and extra resources, this is about trying to do the best with an ever-shrinking number of resources."

On Sunday, it emerged that Kent's PCC Ann Barnes, who has been at the centre of a series of controversies, would not be at the launch of the new policing model because she is on holiday.

Mark Reckless, Rochester and Strood MP, said the PCC should be at the launch to explain the "trade-offs".

Folkestone's Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Lynne Beaumont, who campaigned for Mrs Barnes to be elected, said it was an operational matter and her presence was not needed.

In a statement, Mrs Barnes's office said she was on leave and it was for her to answer comments about her performance.

It said Mrs Barnes's vision for policing and community safety was set out in her Police and Crime Plan, which detailed the work needed to deliver key priorities.

"Mrs Barnes has been briefed regularly by the chief constable about the updated Kent Police model and has previously stated her support for visible, local policing, as this has been at the forefront of discussions she has had with local people," it added.

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