Arrests, interventions and stop and searches have all been carried out by officers as part of a summer operation to ensure women and girls remained safe while they enjoyed a night out in Rochester.

Patrols from Medway’s Community Safety Unit visited the High Street in the evening every weekend between Friday 28 July and Saturday 26 August 2023.

This work was part of Kent Police’s continued commitment to tackling violence against women and girls. The summer months were specifically chosen as statistically, reports of rape and sexual assaults peak during these months, in the late evening and early hours.

And whilst there has never been a specific concern for Rochester, the city does have a vibrant nightlife with a heavy footfall.

The operation, which was first launched by Kent Police in July 2021, saw plain clothes and uniformed officers spend time in the town to ensure those present were kept safe.

During the five weekend visits officers made four arrests, stopped and searched 34 people and gathered details about 65 people.

Patrols also stepped in 52 times for numerous reasons, including reports of ongoing drug dealing, and concerns for the safety of women after they were seen or reported to have been approached by men not known to them.

Examples of these interventions include:

  • Officers searching the car of one man after he was seen approaching a woman who had left a club in the High Street. He was seen by plain clothed officers persistently trying to get the women to go home with him, before he followed her to a taxi rank and continued in his efforts. Officers stepped in to keep the woman safe and his details were taken.
  • Another man was also spoken to after he was seen driving around the area before he left his vehicle and sat on a bench outside a bar, where he attempted to talk to various women. His behaviour was challenged by officers and his details were taken.
  • During the operation officers also stopped one man after he was seen driving in and around the area. He was searched and officers found him in possession of 60 bags of cocaine and £1,000 in cash. He was arrested and later bailed pending further enquiries.

Police Sergeant Ross Haybourne, of Medway’s Community Safety Unit, said:

‘While we always respond to reports of crime it is important to be proactive and carry out work to prevent incidents from occurring.

‘We have run this operation over a few years now as part of our ongoing work to ensure Rochester remains a safe town to visit for a night out. The town is a popular location due to the mixture of bars, restaurants and clubs.

‘During this proactive operation we noticed that some men attempted to engage with women, offer them lifts home or try to follow them to wherever they are going.

‘Whenever this was seen or reported officers challenged these men on their behaviour and they were dealt with robustly and appropriately.

‘Our continued presence has offered reassurance to those visiting the town and officers have received support from local stakeholders and businesses.

‘Kent Police is committed to tackling this issue and this work is just one way the force is continuing in its efforts to address these concerns.’

By Ed

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