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Fresh powers for volunteers on Kent roads set to free up officer patrols across county

PUBLISHED: 09:57 12 June 2017 | UPDATED: 09:58 12 June 2017

PCC Matthew Scott and the South East 4x4 Response teams

PCC Matthew Scott and the South East 4x4 Response teams

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Kent Police is believed to be the virst force in the country to grant such powers

Crucial officer time is set to be freed up across Kent after the police force struck an innovative deal to grant powers to charity volunteers helping on the county’s roads.

Kent Police is believed to be the first force in the country to grant such powers, utilising reforms which only came into effect in April.

It means South East 4x4 Response will be able to place cordons on roads - excluding motorways – and direct traffic, and will enable its 100 volunteers to deal with incidents such as fallen trees, broken down vehicles and vehicles trapped in adverse weather conditions.

Announcing the new powers at Kent Police Headquarters, assistant chief constable Tony Blaker said: “Our partners at South East 4x4 Response have been working with Kent Police for a number of years, steadily increasing the numbers of incidents they assist us with.

“They are instrumental in helping Kent Police and our partners conduct searches over land and in areas hard to reach.

“Section 38 of the new Policing and Crime Act allows us to take that partnership further.

“It gives Kent Police the ability to confer a wider range of powers on volunteers and so gives us a more flexible workforce, crucially enabling our police officers to focus on the work in our communities which only they can do.

“Up to now South East 4x4 Response has only been able to assist our teams in responding to incidents.

“Now these specially-trained volunteers can be deployed to certain incidents without Kent Police having to attend as well.”

The move has the full support of Kent’s police and crime commissioner Matthew Scott, who pledged to back volunteering in Safer in Kent: The Community Safety and Criminal Justice Plan.

Mr Scott said: “I am very pleased that South East 4x4 Response has been granted these additional powers, and on behalf of the people of Kent I’d like to thank these volunteers for all their hard work in helping Kent Police keep us safe.

“In my first year as Kent’s PCC I helped fund the reintroduction of a Volunteer Police Cadets programme in Kent and provided money to Kent’s Special Constabulary but I am equally keen to support those who support Kent Police but who do not formally wear a police logo.

“Without the extensive support of groups like South East 4x4 Response, and a great number of other charities and volunteers, there would be extra costs and resources that Kent Police would need to find.

“In recognition of that fact, and to give something back, I’m announcing a one-off grant of £25,000 for Kent Police to use to fund training and capital costs for organisations which volunteer with the force.

“I’m also awarding a further £25,000 to Speedwatch specifically to fund new equipment for their volunteers, who do fantastic work monitoring our roads.”

In addition, the PCC is setting aside £15,000 for groups which bring communities together.

Organisations requiring funding to spend on events, equipment or training can request up to £750 each.

Mr Scott explained: “In my Safer in Kent Plan I committed to making offenders pay for the harm that they cause.

“Each year Kent Police receives money by seizing and auctioning vehicles from offenders who use them to commit crime - drug dealers, for example - and through this new Communities Together Fund I want to reinvest that money into the local communities those offenders potentially harmed.

“I also plan to set up a programme to recognise volunteers who support community safety and Kent Police.

“I want to honour and thank all the charities and volunteers right across the county who give up their free time to help make us Safer in Kent.”

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