Teenagers suspected of committing robberies in Ashford have been banned from entering the county following partnership work instigated by the Kent and Medway Violence Reduction Unit.
An initiative between Kent Police, local councils, health service providers and other key agencies, the VRU aims to address the causes of violent crime, support those involved and affected by it and prevent offences from happening in the first place.
On Sunday 31 October 2021 a 16-year-old boy had his bicycle and trainers stolen from him when he was approached by a group of other teenagers, one of whom was in possession of a knife, at the skatepark in Tannery Lane, Ashford.
The following month, on Monday 8 November, a friend of the victim from the first offence was allegedly targeted by the same group whilst walking on Station Approach. One was again in possession of a knife and the victim was reportedly forced to hand over £5 cash.
Due to the concerning nature of both incidents, the VRU held a serious violence review with partner agencies and established that the same group were believed to have been witnessed acting in an antisocial manner on a train between Hastings and Ashford.
Subsequent enquiries with British Transport Police led to them being identified as suspects for other unrelated offences committed in Sussex, which they had previously been arrested and released on bail for. They have since been interviewed in relation to the Ashford robberies and had their bail conditions varied by Sussex Police which mean they are no longer permitted to enter Kent and can be arrested if they do.
Enquiries into the Kent offences remain ongoing.
Risk to public safety
VRU manager Detective Chief Inspector Ben Loose said: ‘This is a fantastic example of the work our VRU co-ordinators do to prevent violent crime in our communities, and demonstrates the support they provide to our Criminal Investigation Departments to help identify those who pose a risk to public safety.
‘Kent Police has a great relationship with British Transport Police, Sussex Police and other neighbouring forces, and I would like to thank them for their assistance in this matter and in helping to keep our county a safe place to live, work and visit.’