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New chief cop is up for the challenge

PUBLISHED: 16:17 02 July 2008 | UPDATED: 09:54 23 August 2010

Police station,  Thamesway, Gravesend
New Area Commander for North Kent Chief Super Paul Brandon with outgoing North Kent Area Com Chief Super Gary Beautridge who has been promoted
Picture: Jamie Gray
Mobile:07834 965462
Email: jamie@jamiegray.com

Police station, Thamesway, Gravesend New Area Commander for North Kent Chief Super Paul Brandon with outgoing North Kent Area Com Chief Super Gary Beautridge who has been promoted Picture: Jamie Gray Mobile:07834 965462 Email: jamie@jamiegray.com

Jamie Gray

I WOULD not even consider leaving my desk or walking away from my duty, it is not in my nature and if police were to strike would I do it? Definitely not! Tough talking firearms expert Paul Brandon, 45, is a fitness fanatic and dedicated to his new rol

I WOULD not even consider leaving my desk or walking away from my duty, it is not in my nature and if police were to strike would I do it? Definitely not!"

Tough talking firearms expert Paul Brandon, 45, is a fitness fanatic and dedicated to his new role as North Kent Area Commander Chief Superintendent.

He gave his first interview to the Gravesend Reporter at the new station in Thames Way, Northfleet this week.

Mr Brandon replaces outgoing Area Commander Chief Superintendent Gary Beautridge, 47, who has been promoted to Assistant Chief Constable after almost 30 years with Kent Police.

He said: "The pay situation is a political hot potato and I fully support the Chief Constable Mike Fuller in all he has done for his officers.

"No-one was happy with the situation and it is a very contentious subject but when we talk about striking it does not sit well with me. All the officers have my full support but maybe it is the length of my service and the job I do but I could never even consider walking away.

"The thought of reducing a level of service that is here to protect people is not an option."

With a background as Deputy Operational Superintendent for Tactical and Frontier Operations he is used to extreme situations, frequently taking command of firearms teams, dog units and even members of Special Branch.

Although he officially started his new role on Monday, the married father-of-three has spent over a week in Gravesend meeting key staff and getting to know the community, which is where he believes success in tackling crime is achieved.

He added: "It's been a busy couple of weeks and I expect to have a lot more late nights but I'm up for that challenge.

"Only two weeks ago I was at an armed robbery at a restaurant in London and now I am here.

"In the '80s the country experienced a vast amount of public order challenges - the London riots and the miners' strike.

"It was a busy time but gave me a good grounding for the future and I am up for any challenge thrown at me.

"I've worked with my predecessor Gary before and he and his team have really turned this area around.

"They have made good relationships with the public and forged partnerships with councils and religious leaders.

"What was once a failing area has now one of the best records and I have to sustain that and build on it and that is the challenge ahead.

"I have been out and about this week. I went to the Kabbadi event last weekend which just shows the diverse community in north Kent.

"I have met many people I will work in partnership with but know there are many, many more I still have to meet.

"Community is the key, gone are the days when people walk by, walking past is not an option. It is about the community fighting back and working with the police.

"Neighbourhood policing is extremely important in Kent and I am a strong advocate of this style. This is why the PACT meetings are now so pivotal in north Kent."

Gary Beautridge says his two-and-a-half-years serving Dartford and Grav-esend has been 'phenomenal' and seen great change.

He has led investigations in some of the most serious of crimes including the tragic murder of taxi driver Gian Chand Bajar in Gravesend and Dr Victoria Anyetei in Dartford.

His time has also seen him visit America to see how police work in other countries and to India to work with police to gain greater understanding of honour crimes.

He said: "Two-and-a-half years ago this area was classified as 'failing'. It had years of chronic crime performance problems, with rising crime and low detection and confidence. It presented massive challenges but we have risen to those challenges and today it is now the best performing area in Kent.

"We have established good partnerships with Gravesham and Dartford councils to tackle the problems affecting communities.

"That taxi driver case was a tragedy to a lovely man with a lovely family. If it was not for the great community relations we now have we would not have had so many residents helping us and coming forward with information, resulting in us catching Luke Aujila (convicted of murder) very quickly.

"The police and the councils listened to the Sikh community and to the taxi drivers and have secured a significant amount of money, £140,000, to make them safer in the first scheme of its kind in the UK. That is about working in partnership and that is what we have achieved here."

Mr Beautridge also talked about his visits to America and India where he learnt about different policing methods and sought to establish links with the Punjab in relation to 'honour crimes.'

According to the last consensus which is several years old Gravesend has a Sikh population of 10 per cent and also represents a large proportion of Dartford residents.

He added: "We are in the biggest period of globalisation and making links with law enforcement agencies in India was vital.

"Issues surrounding domestic violence, forced marriages and kidnap and extortion cannot be ignored by us. We need to make sure that if someone is blackmailed in Gravesend and family members in the Punjab are threatened that we can work with and alongside the Indian authorities to ensure their safety.

"Without this members' of the Sikh community will feel they cannot come to us. This visit helped create these partnerships. It has been a busy period in north Kent and something that I am very proud of.

"I am delighted with my new role but I am leaving with a tinged sadness that I am saying goodbye to a great team here with some great detectives and officers."

Speaking about his replacement, he added: "Paul Brandon is a straight talking, no nonsense, professional person and he is a great addition for North Kent Police."

michael.adkins@archant.co.uk

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