Armed burglars, knife-point robbers and reckless car thieves have been sentenced to more than 850 years’ imprisonment, thanks to a single Kent Police team.

The Chief Constable’s Crime Squad is in its second year of operation, having been set up to proactively target high harm offenders who indiscriminately target innocent members of the public and law-abiding businesses.

Since its inception in February 2019, the team’s investigations have resulted in offenders being jailed for a combined total of 866 years. In the past year alone, 489 years in prison sentences were imposed.

Detective Inspector Darren Reynolds, who leads the team, said: ‘Our focus is to go after offenders who cause huge amounts of harm within our communities – people who think nothing of breaking into a victim’s home or using violence to steal money and valuable items.

‘As the results show, we’re making the county a very difficult place for such offenders to operate. Numerous people who considered themselves to be well-organised and sophisticated have been removed from the streets and are unable to cause further damage.

‘Not only do these results make the county a safer place, it also demonstrates the excellent service we are providing to victims of crime who are always the most important person in any case we deal with.’

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The Crime Squad was set up in February 2019 and has teams based across the county.

It consists of detectives and police constables who work together to identify patterns of offending and target offenders before they reoffend.

In addition to securing the prison sentences, it has received authority to issue 1,890 charges and made 610 arrests. Of these, 830 charges and 295 arrests were made in the past year.

Among the more noteworthy cases in the past 12 months is the imprisonment of a prolific burglary gang who, between them, were responsible for a series of offences committed across Maidstone, Whitstable, Canterbury, Tonbridge, Medway and Sevenoaks. They were jailed for a combined total of 23 years.

A knife-point robber who stole more than £10,500 from amusement centres in Gillingham, Romford and Welling was also imprisoned for seven years. Thanks to the Crime Squad’s expertise, he was detained two days after the Gillingham offence took place despite previously evading capture for incidents that took place outside of the county in mid-2019.

Elsewhere in Medway, the team was able to quickly recover a car that had been stolen from a home in Twydall. The offender intentionally travelled from outside of the county to commit the offence but was brought into custody within minutes of the offence taking place. He is now serving a three-and-a-half year sentence.

And in the West of Kent, four men who posed as police officers to enter a gated home in Ide Hill, before stealing from the occupants, were jailed for 12 years between them.

Although burglary and robbery are the backbone of what the team deals with, the expertise of its officers has also led to them investigating two men who were suspected of non-recent sexual offences. Between them, they were jailed for 19 years.

The team also secured four-and-a-half years’ imprisonment for a woman who stole from 14 shops across Whitstable, Dover, Canterbury, Maidstone and Gillingham. She used a series of sophisticated distraction techniques to deceive staff, before stealing mobile phones and jewellery worth more than £100,000.

DI Reynolds added: ‘Each day we are gathering new information on offenders and using every available power to ensure they are targeted.

‘We’re working with neighbouring police forces and specialist units within Kent Police, we’re taking to the streets in plain-clothes and we’re obtaining warrants to go after offenders in their own homes.

‘I am quite confident the service we provide to the people of Kent is only going to get better over the next 12 months.’

By Ed

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