Brighton and Hove police chief focuses on the most vulnerable

Posted On 27 Nov 2013 at 8:40 am

Few police officers are given to grand gestures on taking over the command of a place like Brighton and Hove.

Most accept the culture of steady reassurance that understandably pervades the service and they make their mark by degrees.

Chief Superintendent Nev Kemp, who took over as the divisional commander for Brighton and Hove earlier this year, does not appear to be any exception to this rule. But it is possible to detect a shift in focus.

Some officers regard him as a more traditional-style police chief than his predecessor Graham Bartlett.

But a few have suggested that he is taking the local force even further along the road of trying to protect the most vulnerable people in society.

Not least because many of those people are among the most likely to become the victims of crime themselves.

This shift is reflected in recent changes that Chief Superintendent Kemp has made to the Sussex Police command structure in Brighton and Hove.

Nev Kemp

Nev Kemp

Some might suggest that those changes were borne out of the pressure to cut budgets. And it is true that the force has felt the same sort of pressure on its finances that has been common across the public sector over the past few years.

But in thinning out senior numbers, one officer said that the new boss was leading by example.

There is now one fewer superintendent. This means that the remaining superintendent, Steve Whitton, and Chief Superintendent Kemp have to take on more senior-level responsibility.

Chief Superintendent Kemp said: “There’s quite a lot legislatively that needs to be authorised by a superintendent.

“Plus if you’re a gold (a gold commander – in charge during major incidents or operations) you have to be a superintendent or above.

“We’ve taken on extra work because of that – but so has a large part of the police service so it feels like the right thing to do.”

He explained why he felt it was right to focus on the most vulnerable, saying: “I joined the force 18 years ago. About half of that has been at Brighton – probably more now.

“I’ve served as a sergeant, inspector and chief inspector at Brighton. I became a detective chief inspector here and in the Protecting Vulnerable People Branch.”

It involved dealing with paedophilia and child protection, working with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).

The role also involved tackling domestic violence, human trafficking, prostitution and serious sexual offences – in short, protecting vulnerable people.

He said: “I was based at Sussex House in Hollingbury. And I became a detective superintendent in that branch. It was a strategic role – making sure the force was doing what it’s meant to be doing.

“It included cold case reviews and that meant overseeing a couple of significant investigations into clergy.”

Chief Superintendent Kemp has looked at ways to modernise the more specialist investigations carried out by CID (the Criminal Investigation Department).

He said: “I’ve led a forcewide project into introducing specialist rape investigators and providing an even better service to victims when that initial report comes in. That’s forcewide but I’ve got a special interest in.

“At the moment, unless the victim is a child, we don’t have specialists investigating rape allegations.

Steve Whitton

Steve Whitton

“Also officers who deal with that initial report are trained but we want to have a higher degree of training to support a victim better all the way through the process.

“I got the College of Policing in to do a review because I knew we could do better.”

He has also questioned whether more could be done to tackle human trafficking and the exploitation that goes with it, including prostitution, forced labour and slavery.

He said: “There’s a lot of research to show (human trafficking is) the second most profitable organised crime activity after drugs. We rarely come across it in Brighton.

“When we do (come across it in Sussex) it’s usually in one of two ways. Either forced labour with people doing driveways. Or, in Brighton, it’s in the sex industry.

“Either it isn’t happening in Brighton, which is great, or it is happening and we’re not coming across it in which case we need to do something about it.”

Last week the arrest of a couple in Brixton in London put the spotlight on slavery. It is a problem that few people were aware of and, partly as a result of that, one that has proved hard to measure and detect.

Before the arrests last Thursday (21 November), three recent raids in Brighton and Peacehaven led to two men being charged with holding people in slavery.

If the allegations are true, it would suggest that Chief Superintendent Kemp’s team are becoming better at unearthing the evidence to support his suspicions.

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