Local News

Care Home Residents Evicted With Five Hours Notice

Care Home Residents Evicted With Five Hours Notice

Families have been left in shock and anger after being told that the residential care home, where their vulnerable adult children lived in Sittingbourne, was being closed down.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), the independent regulator of all health and social care services in England, initially inspected Berkeley House, Lynsted Lane, on Wednesday 20th October. Following their visit they "imposed urgent conditions upon the service" and another follow-up visit was made on Thursday 28th October. At that visit the CQC say that they "followed [their] normal practice of giving feedback at the end of the visit". They say that they are still compiling their final report and will publish it once "the legal processes are completed". The CQC told SFM News that they "are aware that following this inspection the local authority made arrangements for all people to move out of the service".

Parents say that residents at Berkeley House, most of them with special needs requiring specialist around the clock care, were told at midday on Friday 29th October that they would need to move out by 5pm that day. Achieve Together, who ran the site, issued a Press Statement as follows: “We are clear that the provision delivered at Berkeley House fell way below the high standards that the people we support rightly expect and deserve, and that we know we can provide. We wholeheartedly apologise for this.

“The circumstances surrounding the closure of this service are extremely complex and unique, and involved numerous parties. However, we completely recognise the distress and concern that the speed and nature of this closure caused for the people and families involved, and the impact it has subsequently had.

“A thorough investigation is already underway to ensure all of the specific issues raised by the CQC and others are robustly addressed, and so that lessons can be learnt. These actions will be communicated with the people we support, their families, the local authority, CQC, and other relevant stakeholders, who we are continuing to work in close partnership with.”

Appeal Following Serious A249 Collision

Appeal Following Serious A249 Collision

Witnesses are being sought following a serious collision on the A249 Sheppey Way near Bobbing last night.

The incident, involving a white Ford Transit tipper truck and a black and red motorcycle, took place at 5.10pm (Tuesday 30th November).

Both vehicles were travelling towards Iwade at the time of the collision and the motorcyclist, who is in his late teens, sustained serious injuries. He was taken to a London hospital where he remains in a critical condition.

Officers from Kent Police’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit (SCIU) would like to speak to anyone who witnessed the incident, or who was in the area and has dashcam footage that may assist the investigation.

Witnesses should call the SCIU appeal line on 01622 798 538, or, alternatively, they can email sciu.td@kent.pnn.police.uk quoting reference AH/LB/135/21.


Helicopter, Drone And Dog Unit Help Track Suspect

Helicopter, Drone And Dog Unit Help Track Suspect

The police helicopter, drone and dog unit successfully assisted officers from the Rural Task Force to locate a man who reportedly made off from police in Sittingbourne.

Officers were patrolling Chestnut Street, Borden shortly before 5pm on Saturday (20th November) when they noticed a suspicious vehicle. As it came to a stop the officers got out and approached the van at which point it is said the suspect vehicle rammed the police car four times. The driver then made off on foot into a nearby woods.

The police helicopter, drone and dog unit were used to search for the suspect and he was located nearby and arrested.

A man in his forties was arrested on suspicion of failing to stop for police, theft of a motor vehicle, theft, dangerous driving, going equipped and assaulting an emergency worker.

He has been released on police bail pending further investigation.

CCTV Released As Part Of An Assault Investigation

CCTV Released As Part Of An Assault Investigation

CCTV images have been released as part of an investigation into an assault on a woman in Sittingbourne.

It is reported the victim was headbutted and shaken violently after she had met up with a previously unknown man, during the evening of Friday 1st October.

The assault is alleged to have taken place in Station Street after the pair had been to a cinema and went for a walk together.

Investigating officer PC Harry Lewis of Swale’s Local Policing Unit told SFM News: "Since the allegations were made we have been exploring several lines of enquiry, including the review of any potential CCTV opportunities. We are now looking to identity and speak to the man in these images."

Anyone who recognises him or has information which may assist the investigation is urged to call Kent Police on 01795 419119 quoting 46/195139/21.

Alternatively you can contact Crimestoppers frr and anonymously on 0800 555 111, or by using the online form at: https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information/forms/pre-form


Burglars Jailed Following Crime Spree

Burglars Jailed Following Crime Spree

Two burglars have been sentenced at court after they stole vehicles parked outside owners’ homes in Swale and Medway.

Between Saturday 26th June and Sunday 11th July, Jim Smith (left photo) and Benjamin Lee targeted high value cars by stealing the ignition keys, having gained access to the victims' addresses.

On the 26th June, the pair stole an Audi A4 parked on a driveway in Coombe Drive, Sittingbourne. They replaced the number plates with a set stolen from a similar vehicle and then drove to Iwade where they attempted to commit another burglary.

They then travelled to Gillingham and broke into a house before stealing a Mercedes CLA parked outside.

Three days later, on 29th June, Smith and Lee stole another Mercedes CLA from the driveway of a house in Minster-on-Sea. On 5th July, they also attempted to break into a BMW owner’s home in the same town.

They stole a further Mercedes in Sittingbourne overnight on 11th July and the following day, Lee was seen driving it on false number plates by a Kent Police patrol.

The officers followed the vehicle onto Lower Rainham Road where it failed to stop when the patrol activated its blue lights.

Lee, of Flanagan Avenue, Queenborough continued towards the Medway towns at speed, driving in an extremely dangerous manner and causing other vehicles to take evasive action to avoid a collision. He was arrested in Chatham when the vehicle had to stop in a queue of traffic.

Investigators from the Chief Constable’s Crime Squad identified that Smith, of Church Road, Murston was Lee’s accomplice, and he was arrested on Tuesday 13th July.

Detectives proved the two were responsible for the multiple break-ins and theft offences, and they were both charged with conspiracy to commit burglaries.

Lee was also charged with dangerous driving, driving without insurance, driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence and failing to stop when required by a police officer.

The pair, both aged 20, pleaded guilty to the indictments at Maidstone Crown Court. On Tuesday (16th November), Lee was sentenced to three years and nine months. Smith was sentenced to two years and six months, and both will initially serve their detention in a young offender institution. Lee was also disqualified from driving for 40 months.

Detective Sergeant Richard Taylor told SFM News: "These criminals violated several homes to steal car keys whilst the owners were asleep on the premises. They showed no regard for the impact their actions would have on the victims and, when pursued, Lee had scant concern for the dangers he posed to other road users. Their detention in a young offender institution is entirely appropriate."

Kent Police To Target Uninsured Drivers

Kent Police To Target Uninsured Drivers

Roads policing officers in Kent are warning motorists that they will seize their car if it is not insured as they take part in a national campaign.

Between today (Monday 15th November) and this coming Sunday (21st November), officers will be focussing on uninsured vehicles whilst carrying out road checks and patrols as part of Op Drive Insured.

In the UK each year 130 people are killed and 26,000 suffer injury after being involved in a collision with an uninsured or untraced driver. This equates to one casualty every 20 minutes. Additionally one in every five collisions on the countries roads involve an untraced or uninsured driver.

Roads Policing Chief Inspector, Craig West told SFM News: "The use of uninsured vehicles causes an increased risk of harm to our communities. In the event of a collision with an uninsured driver the costs often fall to the law-abiding motorist involved who may lose their no claims bonus and have to pay their insurance excess out of their own pocket. In addition to the financial implications those who drive uninsured are often linked to other criminality and we are keen to get these vehicles off of our road network. Roads policing officers seize uninsured vehicles on a daily basis and can find out quickly if a car has insurance. When we seize a car it risks being crushed and the driver will be issued with six points and a £300 fine. Our message is simple, if your vehicle is not insured - don’t drive."

For more information please visit: https://www.kent.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/rs/road-safety/...

Age UK Receives An 'Inequalities In Sport' Grant

Age UK Receives An 'Inequalities In Sport' Grant

Age UK Faversham & Sittingbourne has been awarded £3439 of National Lottery funding from Sport England’s Tackling Inequalities Fund, which aims to tackle inequalities in activity levels as a result of the impact of COVID-19.

The funding award will allow Age UK Faversham & Sittingbourne to grow on the success of their 'Walking Football' sessions with the launch of 'Walking Netball', both activities provide low impact exercise while at the same time tackling isolation through group activities.

Sport England’s work and contribution to Tackling Inequalities focuses on reducing the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on activity levels in under-represented groups, ensuring gaps between those who are active and those who are not do not widen during this period.

With a strong understanding of the needs and issues in their areas, Sport England has initially channelled £110,000 through Kent Sport to support community groups in their areas as a result of the impacts of COVID-19.

This funding and support will enable community groups working with target audiences – Lower Socio-Economic Groups, Black, Asian Minority Ethnic Communities, Disabled People and People with Long-Term Health Conditions (LTC) – to continue to exist and engage with their communities with a view to keeping them active during both the lockdown and early recovery stages.

Clare Burgess, Age UK Faversham & Sittingbourne's Chief Executive, told SFM News:  “I am delighted that after the success of Walking Football we have now been awarded funding to launch Walking Netball, the Covid pandemic has had a huge impact on loneliness and isolation across Swale and this will enable us to offer another way of engaging socially with the added benefit of encouraging low impact physical activity. I look forward to welcoming the first group of Walking Netballers very soon”.

You can find out more about the current 'Walking Football' sessions by clicking here: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/favershamandsittingbourne/activities-and-events...

Safety Advice Given To Train Commuters

Safety Advice Given To Train Commuters

Personal safety alarms have been given out to Sittingbourne commuters as part of a visit by Kent Police officers to Sittingbourne Train Station.

Sittingbourne’s Town Centre PCSO Gregory Cain, and Swale’s Crime Prevention PCSO Matt Tennant, set up a stand on Tuesday (9th November) to talk to commuters about their personal safety. They also gave out free personal alarms and anti-drink spiking bottle stoppers.

The initiative was supported by Swale Council’s Community Safety Partnership which helped to provide the items given to commuters.

Officers also spoke to commuters about safety initiative, ‘Ask for Angela’, which allows people who feel unsafe, vulnerable or threatened to discreetly seek help by approaching staff at pubs, clubs and other venues and asking them for ‘Angela’.

While at the station the PCSOs further spoke with people about the launch of ‘My Community Voice’ (MCV), a two-way engagement tool set up by Kent Police for residents, businesses and community groups in Kent and Medway. 

MCV will enable Kent Police to update users with news, alerts, appeals, engagement events and general policing activities. 

To read more information about MCV please click here

Arrests Made After 'Man With A Machete' Call

Arrests Made After 'Man With A Machete' Call

Two people have been arrested and a man remains in hospital after a report of a man 'with a machete' in Sittingbourne town centre.

Officers were called just after 8.00pm on Friday (5th November) to Station Street, Sittingbourne to what officers described as "an affray involving two men".

It's believed that one man suffered injuries to his head and face and was taken to hospital by SECAmb (South East Coast Ambulance Service).

One witness told police that he has seen "a man with a machete".

Kent Police have confirmed to SFM News that: "following the incident one of the men, aged 29, was said to have been seen in possession of a knife. Officers attended and arrested this suspect at 8.39pm. He was taken to a hospital with head and facial injuries and he remains in hospital."

It's also believed that a second man, aged 37, was involved in the affray and that he was arrested yesterday (Saturday 6th November) on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm. He was bailed last night pending further enquiries by officers.

Anyone who may have seen anything is asked to contact Kent Police on 101 or they can call Kent Crimestoppers, free and anonimously, on 0800 555 111.

Thief Banned From Entering Sheerness High Street

Thief Banned From Entering Sheerness High Street

A Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) has been imposed on a repeat offender who stole from shops and committed anti-social behaviour in Sheerness. 

Michael Wickham, 42, of Crown Quay Lane here in Sittingbourne, has been handed the two-year order for continued nuisance behaviour in the town. 

The order bans him from entering Sheerness High Street and prevents him from loitering or remaining in any place within the boundary of the high street which includes Trinity Road, A250 Millennium Way and Victory Street. He is also ordered to ensure he leaves any premise when directed by police, PCSOs or anyone acting in a lawful capacity. He must also not be found drunk in any public place in Sittingbourne, Faversham or the Isle of Sheppey.

The CBO was issued as part of a sentencing on Thursday 14th October where he was jailed for seven days and handed the CBO. The hearing took place at Medway Magistrates’ Court in connection with two shop thefts after he was charged with stealing alcohol from Morrisons Supermarket in Thomsett Way, Queenborough on 24th May and at Tesco in Bridge Road, Sheerness.

PC Jamie Spencer of the Swale Community Safety Unit, told SFM News: "Mr Wickham is a prolific offender who is responsible for repeat criminality in the town which causes a lot of stress and anxiety to those living and working in and around the area. If he breaches this CBO he could face imprisonment of up to five years."


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