Kent Police

Appleby 'predator' jailed for child sex offences

An Appleby man described by police as a "vile predator" has been given a 16-year prison sentence for the rape and repeated historical sexual abuse of a child in the south of England.

John Wheeler, 41, of Doomgate, was charged at Maidstone Crown Court with 10 sexual offences against a child and possessing and making indecent images of children.

A jury found him guilty of eight of the charges, including one count of rape, after a trial.

Speaking after the case, Det Con Fleur Hardie of Kent Police said: ‘Wheeler is a vile predator who continued to deny that he had repeatedly abused a child even though there was considerable evidence to the contrary."

These awful offences may have stretched back for a long period of time and we may never know exactly how long this abuse went on for."

Det Con Fleur Hardie

Kent Police to sell HQ

Kent Police HQ

Kent Police has confirmed it is to sell its headquarters in Maidstone.

The force said it made the decision after judging it is “no longer providing the best possible value for money due to its ongoing maintenance costs”.

Commentating on the story, which was first reported by Kent Online, a police statement said: "The force has been carefully reviewing its estate over the last 18 months with a view to understanding the best way to maintain and continue to invest in that outstanding service to the public.

"As a result of this process, the Chief Constable has come to the decision that the force’s headquarters site in Sutton Road, Maidstone, is no longer providing the best possible value for money due to its ongoing maintenance costs and as we are able to consider alternative locations that are owned elsewhere in the county."Therefore, the Chief Constable and the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner have decided that the best way to continue to invest in the service the force offers the public is to sell the current headquarters site and invest that money back into other parts of our operational policing estate and training school, which we remain committed to retaining and improving.

"The Kent Police and Crime Commissioner has given his approval for the decision."

People urged to 'reach out' to help others

With it being Mental Health Awareness Week, Kent Police have added their voice in urging people to check in on others to ensure they are coping amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Police chief calls on public to maintain social distancing

Alan Pughsley

The Chief Constable of Kent Police has called on people to still adhere to social distancing measures following the easing of some coronavirus restrictions in England this week.

Alan Pughsley said it was important to remember that the lockdown had not ended, and that restrictions could be re-enforced if the infection rate starts to creep back up.

He said: “It’s fantastic that the public response to tackling Covid-19 means restrictions have been eased but it is important to remember the restrictions could easily come back if the rate of infection increases to an unacceptable level.

“To avoid the rate of infection increasing, everyone needs to continue to abide by the social distancing measures.

“My officers will continue to be visible in our communities and will engage with those who need reminding, explain the restrictions that still apply and encourage them to take personal responsibility in the fight against the coronavirus.”

Police still urging people to 'stay home'

Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield has been involved in the latest briefing with Kent Police and the force's police and crime commissioner - and she said the main message is still "stay home".

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Seven Kent Police officers and staff diagnosed with coronavirus

Kent Police Chief Constable Alan Pughsley

Seven Kent Police officers and staff have been confirmed as having coronavirus, the force’s Chief Constable has revealed.

One is currently in hospital and 20 others are self-isolating after displaying symptoms. The force has a sickness absence rate of about 4%, Chief Constable Alan Pughsley said.

He added: “We are continuing with normal business in tackling crime and protecting the most vulnerable members of our society, as well as ensuring the new legislation is adhered to. They inspire me every day and I am extremely grateful to them for continuing to do an excellent job in difficult circumstances.”

Mr Pughsley re-stated his plea for people to stay at home, saying that people who fail to abide by the order are putting at risk the lives of his officers and other key workers.

As of Wednesday 15 April, Kent Police officers had issued 53 fines to people who refused to comply with social distancing restrictions, including 23 over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.

These included three people who travelled from London to the beach at Hythe and were caught fishing after previously being asked to go home.

Mr Pughsley said: “These are difficult times for us all and I completely understand why some people, for example, those without gardens, may struggle to stay at home for an extended period of time. However, when you consider that more than 12,000 people have already died in the UK, it is of paramount importance that we all do as instructed by the Government.”

Nine fined under the Coronavirus Act in Kent

Police officer
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Nine people have been issued with fines by Kent Police under the Coronavirus Act, the force said.

The figure emerged as Chief Constable Alan Pughsley reiterated a request for people to stay at home over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.

Mr Pughsley said: “It comes as no surprise to me that the people of Kent would continue to do what is right for the good of the nation, and we must all continue to do as we have been instructed by the Government this Easter Bank Holiday weekend.

“It is also encouraging to note that my officers have only had to issue nine fines to date, as this shows that my officers are engaging, explaining and encouraging people in the correct way and are being listened to when they ask people to go home.

“Those who have received fines for refusing to comply need to take a look at themselves in the mirror and consider the potential health implications their actions could have on others. It is unacceptable at a time when thousands of people in the UK have already lost their lives.”

Last month Kent Police launched a scheme appealing for their former officers, staff and volunteers to consider coming back to help amid pressure caused by the pandemic. Mr Pughsley said there had been a “promising” response.

Warning issued over coronavirus scammers

Dover and Deal MP Natalie Elphicke has warned the community to be wary of people trying to exploit the coronavirus outbreak after a flurry of scam emails and texts claiming to be from Government departments and Kent Police.

One email, purporting to be from the Department for Education, asked parents of children entitled to free school meals to send their bank details “to make sure you’re supported”. The Department for Education highlighted the scame on social media, saying: “This is a scam email - do not respond, and delete immediately.”

Another scam email was sent claiming to be from the Department for Work & Pensions, while scams from banks, PayPal and some utility companies, have been reported.

Mrs Elphicke said: “It’s become clear that times like these bring out the best and the worst in people.

“We have Corona Community Champions – our brave NHS and care staff as well as Super Neighbours’ schemes and community hubs. There are so many examples of kindness, care, compassion and resilience across our community. Yet there will always be some people who try to exploit the situation.”

Six fines issued for people flouting government instructions

Lizzie Massey

BBC Live reporter

Six fines have been issued to date by Kent Police, to people not adhering to the government's guidance on social distancing.

During routine patrolling across the county, officers have been speaking to people and business owners to make sure they are aware of the government instructions.Assistant Chief Constable Claire Nix said: "Officers are engaging with those going against the instructions, explaining why they are necessary and encouraging them to comply".

Enforcement is used as a "last resort."

She added: "I would like to thank the vast majority of people in Kent for continuing to play their part at this difficult time by staying at home, protecting the NHS and saving lives."