The Commissioner held a meeting at Youthscape in Bute Street, on Wednesday July 5, to confirm details of promises kept to the public in her Police and Crime Plan, since she came into the role in May 2016, against eight key pledges.
Where more visible Community Policing, within the available budget, was concerned she confirmed Luton now has the following arrangements which did not exist before she became Commissioner:-
* 3 Community Hubs of Inspectors, Sergeants, PCs and PCSOs dedicated to problem solving in neighbourhoods, based at Futures House, Marsh Farm, Luton Police Station and the Airport
* Extra police office bases opened at Luton Mall and at Luton Community Fire Station, Bury Park
* 2 extra town centre PCSOs paid for by the Luton BID business group
* An agreement to delegate powers to the Borough Council’s wardens to deal with Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) including littering, street drinking and the sale of alcohol to those who are already drunk, releasing Response police officers to attend more serious crimes
* In the countryside surrounding the town, there is now the largest specialist Rural Crime Team in the East of England, joined by an extra 4 PCSOs in the last year when, before her appointment, not a single rural specialist officer was deployed
The PCC discussed her pledge to ensure police are available when we need them most having supported recruitment of 206 police officers in her first two years to boost Bedfordshire Police’s stretched frontline, including 10 Police Now graduate officers in 2017 who are dedicated to problem solving in communities. Commissioner Holloway confirmed that she will be recruiting a further 110-130 officers a year in each of her next two years from the £2.988m she is able to raise from council tax, now she is able to charge an extra pound a month to Band D households.
“Luton is our largest town and has its most complex and challenging crime needs. That’s why it could be said that it receives a ‘disproportionate’ share of policing. It receives a full 40% of Bedfordshire Police’s resources, but I’m determined to provide as many police officers, as accessibly as possible, on the budget which is available to me because that’s what every single community in every single location has been telling me at every public meeting since I became the PCC,” said Commissioner Holloway.
Deputy Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police, DCC Garry Forsyth, joined her on the panel to explain the way the Force determines where its officers and staff should be deployed. He gave details of the monthly Force Tactical Tasking Meeting which looks at evidence of crime and plots future operations and deployments against the evidence, rather than anecdotal reports, which can be misleading. He explained that this is backed by twice daily tasking meetings, each morning and evening, to allow Bedfordshire Police to "flex’ its resources hour by hour and minute by minute depending on the need”. He also explained the THRIVE process - where each call handler in the Force Control Room has to assess which of the 999 and 101 calls coming in are the most serious in terms of threat and risk to the public to determine who police officers should go to first. He also provided a very thorough explanation of how crime is actually recorded.
“It was a pleasure to join the PCC in meeting the public and explain how we prioritise and allocate our policing resources across the force and to take questions from the people present. It was particularly pleasing to be able to talk about the positive trajectory of improvement that the force is on as well as some of the fantastic work that is going on with the public and our partners to address the issues that matter to local people,” said the DCC.
The PCC confirmed her pledge to ‘put victims at the centre of everything we do’ has, quite literally, been delivered. “We have created a centre of Victim Care Specialists right at the very heart of Kempston Police HQ - the Signpost Hub - to advise victims, or those affected by a crime like parents, children and partners, whether or not they have reported the crime to police. It’s backed by an online service - signpostforbedfordshire.com - with details of high quality victim support services throughout this county, a translation function in case the victim does not speak English and a map to show which services are closest to them,” said Commissioner Holloway. She called on the audience to please take a note and share the freephone, confidential, Signpost Hub number - 0800 0282 887 - on social media and with family and friends.
The Commissioner gave over much of the meeting to a discussion of the work being done to drive down knife and gang crime, including training funded by her office to almost 2000 teachers and frontline staff to warn of signs to stop ‘county lines’ drug running using vulnerable children and to almost 2000 pupils themselves to warn of the dangers of knife crime. The meeting included a presentation on all the work being done in Luton schools by Bedfordshire Police Schools’ Liaison Lead, Richard Denton.
“The Bedfordshire Police School Liaison Team is working tirelessly to tackle knife crime and serious youth violence and in partnership with the OPCC we have been able to deliver a number of additional projects into schools and other educational establishments to ensure young people across Bedfordshire fully understand the consequences of carrying a weapon,” said Richard Denton.
The open meeting, which had been widely advertised on social media, was warmly received by an audience which represented multiple Luton communities. Chair of the independent Stop and Search Scrutiny Panel, which reviews dip-sampled body worn video from Bedfordshire Police Officers to ensure community confidence, Montell Neufville, said, “I speak as I find and I met the Commissioner before she became PCC and listened to her promises. She gave a lot of detail tonight and she has actually delivered more than she promised - with three Community Policing Hubs in Luton, not two - and should be given credit for that.”
Veteran Luton Community Liaison and charity campaigner, radio presenter Saundra Glenn, told the audience: “When we look at Kathryn we don’t see a party, we see a person. I follow her on Twitter and she comes across as human compared with many politicians! She is making a real difference as Commissioner in Luton and across Bedfordshire.”
The audience then heard from Chief Insp. Hob Hoque, who is responsible for Community Policing in the south of the county, who talked through his team’s current priorities including reduction of the High Town on-street sex trade and Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) around the Busway. He confirmed he is working on these issues with the local Community Safety Partnership. He also confirmed that police had met with a representative of the Bushmead community the previous Friday, along with councillors and ASB officers, to reassure residents that despite a small spike in thefts and ASB, the police and their partners are handling the issues.
The PCC will now hold similar public meetings in key towns around the county including Bedford, Biggleswade, Leighton Buzzard and Dunstable.
Please see below for full list of upcoming public meetings:-
Monday 30 July 2018 - 7-9pm – Leighton Buzzard - Astral Park Community Centre
Wednesday 22 August 2018 – 6.30-8.30pm – Dunstable – Dunstable Fire Station
Wednesday 12 September 2018 - 6.30-8.30pm – Sandy – Venue tbc
Monday 8 October 2018 - 6.30-8.30pm – Bedford – Venue tbc
Wednesday 7 November 2018 - 6.30-8.30pm – Biggleswade – Venue tbc
Wednesday 28 November 2018 - 6.30-8.30pm - Shefford – Venue tbc