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Kent issues safety advice as PCSO murder inquiry continues

Kent Police has issued safety advice to people living near the spot where PCSO Julia James was murdered. Her family have called for people to join a doorstep vigil at 7pm tonight.

Kent Police have used social media to urge residents to tell family or friends when they are going out as the investigation continues into the murder of PCSO Julia James.

The force has also brought in the National Crime Agency to help with the investigation.

It came as her daughter, who is a police officer, called for a doorstep candle vigil tonight as a mark of respect.

On Twitter #JusticeForJulia is sharing updates on the case.

PCSO James, 53, died after suffering significant head injuries while walking her dog on the edge of Ackholt Woods near her home in Snowdown, Kent on 27 April.

The investigation is being led by Assistant Chief Constable Tom Richards from the Essex and Kent Serious Crime Directorate.

Chief Inspector Dan Carter shared on social media: “As your district commander, I am truly shocked and saddened by the death of PCSO Julia James.

“Julia was well liked and highly respected by her colleagues and members of the public and we are all devastated by what has happened.”

The force issued safety advice to other residents when they are going out including having a charged mobile phone, planning a route and tell someone else where they are going and when they will be back.

Kent has not ruled out a link between her police work and her murder. She joined the force in 2008 as a crime reduction PCSO in east Kent. Most recently she supported victims of domestic abuse in the Vulnerability Investigation Team, based at Canterbury police station.

Another line of inquiry is a man who exposed himself a mile from the murder scene two weeks ago.

But senior officers and PCSO James’s family have also expressed anger at the lack of interest in the case among campaigners.

The Police Federation said the recent death of Sarah Everard had resulted in a controversial vigil but no similar outcry had followed the death of PCSO James, despite the fact she had been alone at the time of death.

Julia James 

Fed Deputy Chair Che Donald shared on social media: “No public & parliamentary furore or protests over the tragic murder of PCSO Julia James, a lone female walking her dog. Another recent murder highlighting the associated risks and safety concerns for women. All lives lost matter, even if it doesn't fit some groups' agendas.”

A family member echoed his sentiments on social media: “Where is the uproar about my beautiful cousin? Where is the huge outrage and pouring of despair? Where are the vigils and protests about her murder? She was walking her dog, near her home, that’s all and somebody must know something.”

And a frontline officer also expressed anger: “Where are the protests? Where are the vigils? Where's the outrage? Or is it because she was one of our own?”

Her daughter in response has called for a doorstep candle vigil tonight to mark a week since the officer's death.

Bethan Coles said: "We would prefer all police resources to be concentrating on the investigation as there is much to be done.

"I've been thinking perhaps we could ask those who wish to remember Mum to light a candle for her and leave it on their doorstep. This would be a beautiful nod to Mum that doesn't intrude on the investigation."

The crime scene has also revived interest into the murder of Lin Russell and her daughter Megan in 1996. The attack happened not far from where PCSO James died.

Michael Stone was given three life sentences in 1998 but he has repeatedly appealed against the conviction. His lawyer has said he has given five names to the force to investigate.

Kent has revealed that the NCA's Major Crime Investigative Support unit has also been brought in to provide specialist support.

Chief Inspector Carter said: “One of the biggest policing teams I have known, including some of the very best detectives in the land, are working tirelessly, leaving no stone unturned, to bring the offender to justice.”

#JusticeForJulia

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