Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner -  
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Bedfordshire’s Police & Crime Commissioner – Kathryn Holloway - held an event today with those controlling the purse strings for community safety and victim support to try to get money working in a joined-up way across the whole of the public sector in the county.

The Innovate, Collaborate, Enhance ‘ICE Summit’ was arranged in collaboration with the University of Bedfordshire, and was held at the Putteridge Bury Campus, Luton.  The event was organised in response to feedback received from Victim’s Service providers who attended the Office of Police & Crime Commissioner (OPCC) Victims Day held in December 2016.

Commissioner Holloway said: “It’s become absolutely obvious to me, after nearly a year in this role, that if all of us feel the benefit, we should all be putting our hands in our pockets to fund the service. For example, driving down domestic violence or drug and alcohol rehabilitation not only works to reduce demand on policing but on all the agencies that come into contact with offenders, like the health service and local councils.

“I want organisations to work in a much more joined up way. It’s all your money as taxpayers at the end of the day and it shouldn’t be about a merry-go-round of who’s got their grant fund open – of which mine is just one. We should all be talking about co-commissioning with a funding calendar for the year and avoiding gaps and duplication by talking opening to one another about the applications as my office has already been doing with the former probation service – now the Community Rehabilitation Company.”

The Commissioner’s aim is to get all those with the budgets to pay for services to protect the community or support victims to not only work to back some of the projects together which have been brought to her as PCC in her recent grants’ commissioning round, but to meet at least quarterly to share information and agree joint aims to coordinate action to tackle the problems of gangs, domestic abuse and addiction in a one-county approach.

The ICE Summit was also held to allow the OPCC to listen to partners, and provide space for commissioners to find opportunities to fund and support robust and sustainable projects and services in Bedfordshire.

As a result of today’s Summit a steering group will be formed to look at, and scope for, enhanced funding bids to international and national bodies.

The event also enabled commissioning bodies the chance to explore ways of working together, prioritise and map the services environment, and establish a year commissioning calendar for Bedfordshire that reflects timetables for funding bidding and supports charities and others to efficiently manage their time and resources.
Bedfordshire’s Police & Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, thanked and congratulated the staff and pupils of Queens Park Academy, Bedford by awarding them with the Community Cohesion Creativity Award 2017.

Their outstanding contribution enabled Bedfordshire Police’s Community Cohesion Team to feature in the Bedford River Festival last year, when members of the school were instrumental in planning the police involvement.  The event proved a huge success with school representatives taking part in a walking float alongside the police.

On presenting the Award, Commissioner Holloway said:  "Queen's Park Academy is an absolutely outstanding school when it comes to working together with Bedfordshire Police. The school runs one of my Junior Police Squads which gives pupils experience of working as a team and problem-solving with a real focus on policing and being a good citizen. It all starts from the top with the Head who fully deserves her Community Cohesion Award for building bridges to help children feel confident in reporting any crime worries to a police officer.

"Year Six pupils also got involved and produced some outstanding work to create costumes as part of Bedfordshire Police's presence at the River Festival and absolutely deserved their award as Creativity Champions."

The Creativity Champions Award was part of the annual Bedfordshire Police Community Cohesion Awards 2017, which saw members of the community acknowledged for their contributions in 21 categories at an event held last month in Luton.
A dedicated rural crime team was introduced today by Bedfordshire’s Police & Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, to help combat criminality in the countryside and provide a fair deal on policing for all – wherever they live – in the town or country.

Operation Sentinel Rural is a dedicated policing team which consists of an Inspector, police Sergeant, four PCs and four PCSOs, and has been created by Bedfordshire Police to tackle crime in the more remote areas of the county.

Commissioner Holloway has worked closely with the Force in supporting plans to form a dedicated rural team. Op Sentinel Rural was officially launched this morning at Scald End Farm, Thurleigh, where the PCC said: "I promised a new emphasis on rural crime and a much fairer deal on policing, whether you live in the town or country, in my Police and Crime Plan and that's what's being delivered today. Make no mistake this isn't Old MacDonald policing it's about a 21st century approach to rural crime and capturing evidence which can stand up in court. That's why the team is backed by a drone which can take high resolution video and photos so if you're fly-tipping, poaching on an industrial scale or wrecking crops on your off-road bikes, this team is on your trail because these crimes aren't just a nuisance, they ruin lives in country communities and cost farmers their livelihoods."

The Commissioner thanked the National Farmers' Union for the support given to Bedfordshire Police in setting up the team and passing on information about crime concerns.

"The NFU have been outstanding and have helped to provide a rural network to supply police with the vital intelligence needed to make the most of the new team and justify the Force creating it in the first place. In fact, I understand Bedfordshire's NFU representative, Jim McKeane is even volunteering to become a Special Constable and I hope that encourages others to train and establish more pockets of effective policing, with full warranted powers, throughout the county, especially in its most remote corners."

Op Sentinel Rural was announced by the PCC and the Chief Constable Jon Boutcher, at the Rural Crime Conference in December 2016.  The team will tackle issues that cause the greatest harm to the countryside and rural communities across the county, including hare coursing, fly-tipping, hunting, sheep worrying and dispersing traveller encampments.

Commenting on the launch was Inspector Mark Farrant who leads Op Sentinel Rural for Bedfordshire Police: “If it’s an issue that matters to our rural communities, then it matters to us, and this new initiative will see us clamp down on those causing issues.

“We are a highly motivated team which is determined to make a difference and provide a positive impact to the rural communities of Bedfordshire. We will work closely with partner agencies to deliver a holistic and comprehensive response.”

To date the rural team has responded and dealt with sheep worrying incidents across Bedfordshire, particularly in the Heath and Reach areas. Officers have used their powers (under Section 61 of the Crime Justice and Public Order Act), to remove an unlawful encampment in Dunstable, and executed a police warrant following animal welfare concerns at a farm in Poddington.

The team has received additional training in identifying and proactively tackling rural issues with nominated officers who lead in specific areas and drone technology, which have the ability to capture high-definition video and take high-resolution photographs. The equipment can also be used to assist in the search for missing people, document crime scenes and chemical incidents and support fatal and serious collision investigations.

Additionally, whilst working in partnership with Hertfordshire Constabulary and Thames Valley Police, the Op Sentinel Rural team held two days of action against driving offenders.  Using the Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system in the Slapton and Billington areas, 19 vehicles were seized for driving with no insurance, three people were dealt with accordingly for theft offences, and one person was arrested for drink-driving.
Bedfordshire’s Police & Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway, is appealing to the public to use the 101 number correctly when calling the police.  The PCC is backing the Bedfordshire Police campaign to raise awareness of the non-emergency number and encouraging people to make proper use of the service.

Introduced in 2011, the 101 number was designed to make the police more accessible to communities while at the same time reducing pressure on the 999 system, but some people are still not aware of the number, while others are not using it correctly.

Commissioner Holloway said: “A lot of people still don’t understand the 101 number.  It was first introduced nationally so that 999 should be for absolute life-threatening emergencies and crimes in progress, and 101 used for everything else.

“It’s absolutely critical for Bedfordshire Police in the Force Control Room because it allows call handlers to differentiate between life threatening emergencies and the level of seriousness of the calls coming in to the police.

“I'm entirely aware that the 101 number can be abused since there is a tendency for the police to be considered the first port of call every time someone is discontented. I've even been sitting in the Force Control Room when a call handler received a complaint about the quality of a take-away!”

In 2016 Bedfordshire Police took around 80,000 999 calls and 300,000 101 calls, in addition to calls from other emergency services colleagues and other agencies.

The current awareness campaign outlines which number to dial and reinforces the appropriate use of each when calling the police, asking that 999 should only be used in a genuine emergency, for example if a serious crime is in progress or if there is a threat to life. The Force states that every day people call 999 when 101 would have been a better choice, which potentially impacts on the time it takes for those who are suffering genuine emergencies to get through to the police control room.

Bedfordshire Police is encouraging people to use 101 if they:
• Want to report a crime that is not in progress
• Have information about a crime such as a drug dealing
• Wish to speak to a local police officer
Commissioner Holloway continued: "There are a lot of myths around 101 and its effectiveness but I've used it to report crime concerns myself over and over again since I came into this office and been answered in only minutes and I can assure the public that the call handlers don't know it's me calling until I get through.”

Calls to 101 cost 15p for the duration of the call.
As part of her on-going commitment to explore joint working with other blue light services in the county, Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway recently joined Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (BFRS) to try out Thermal Imaging Cameras (TICs) and discover how the police can use the equipment in missing person searches.

As part of a six-month trial, firefighters will assist police officers searching for missing people. The devices are usually used to search for hot spots or people in smoke filled rooms, but thanks to this latest initiative it has been given a dual purpose of being able to pick up heat signals from a missing person, saving vital time and resources during any search.

PCC Holloway said, “Using this fascinating technology designed for one specific purpose, in a wholly innovative way is a fantastic example of how co-working between the Police and the Fire and Rescue Service in Bedfordshire put us at the forefront of collaboration and is another example of what is arguably the most extensive partnership between police and fire in the country.

“This collaboration is part of a wider Blue Light Integration Project with the emergency services in Bedfordshire maximising resources and improving efficiencies that is producing real benefits for the people of this county.”

Service Operational Commander, Ian Evans, Head of Operations at Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service said, “In partnership with Bedfordshire Police, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescues Service were requested to assist in the searching for missing and vulnerable people on nine occasions in 2016, we are happy to report that on each occasion the individual was found safe and well.”

Bedfordshire Police’s T/Deputy Chief Constable Mike Colbourne said: “We take reports of missing people very seriously and do all we can to ensure that our most vulnerable are found safe and well and returned to their loved ones. Having support from the Fire Service will make a huge difference and allow us to get searches underway in a much shorter time frame.”

The Blue Light Integration Project focuses on pooling resources from local blue light services – Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service and the East of England Ambulance Trust – to maximise efficiency, improving public service and reducing costs. Discussions are on-going for more collaborative working with the blue light services but some agreements include:
• A shared use of facilities within the county such as in Ampthill, Bedford and Leighton Buzzard fire stations
• A shared use of drone technology to manage major incidents
• Combined crime prevention and community protection teams
• Joint procurement opportunities to save costs
• Closer working between cadets
• Working closely in the creation of share back-office functions

As part of its commitment to work with - and learn more about - the voluntary and community organisations across the county, members of the Bedfordshire Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC), took to the streets of Bedford with the town’s Street Angels on a cold Saturday night. 

The volunteer group patrol the streets of Bedford at the weekend between 10pm and 3am, to provide unconditional, non-judgemental support, and to offer help to those who find themselves vulnerable to crime or distress after a night on the town.

Along with her OPCC colleague - Katie Beaumont - Sam Denness saw first- hand the work of the Bedford Street Angels when they joined them on patrol:  “To be honest, prior to spending time with the Street Angels, we had little idea of exactly how far they’re prepared to go to help all those who go out in Bedford.

“We spent just one night with this fantastic group of people who are there week-in, week-out, and were amazed at exactly what they do.  We witnessed them helping various young men and women who were so intoxicated they had no idea how they were going to get home.  The Angels provided water, blankets, cups of coffee, supplied flip flops to those who had lost shoes or just couldn’t walk in them anymore, put people in taxis, and phoned friends and family to help ensure their safety.”

Bedford Street Angels originated after the tragic death of a young man, Robert Gill, who died in December 2007.  His adoptive parents approached the churches of the town to explore the possibility of forming a Street Angels project to support the vulnerable that access the night- time economy and to prevent a similar tragedy happening to others.

Bedford Street Angels volunteer throughout the year supporting extra events, working in partnership with various organisations including Bedfordshire Police.

Ms Denness continued:  “The Angels work in helping so many people in the town, as we saw on that busy night we were with them.  Our night in the company of these fantastic people who give up their own time every week was both humbling and inspiring, and an experience that  will stay with both Katie and I for a very long time.”
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway has answered last week’s critical report from the police watchdog by highlighting the significant changes which have already been made to protect the most vulnerable young people in the county.

The report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) was critical of Bedfordshire Police's handling of 'missing' young people, including those looked after by a local authority who abscond from care or foster homes. Those who are not where they are supposed to me should be designated as 'absent' by police but those who have a history of previous risk factors, such as older individuals associated with them who may represent a threat of sexual exploitation or drug use, should be categorised as 'missing', resulting in an immediate police search.

Commissioner Holloway pointed to the following changes in the way the force deals with such cases, which have already been introduced:

• In September, a specialist Child Sexual Exploitation and Missing Investigation Team (CMIT) was created taking responsibility for cases of 'missing' youngsters from the wider Community Policing Teams
• A team of 10 Detective Constables replaced two Child Sexual Exploitation Coordinators
• 16 Police Constables replaced two Missing Persons’ Coordinators
• Time taken to find 'missing' young people has been reduced from an average of 71 hours to 29 (according to the latest data from February 2017)
• The repeat cases of young people going 'missing' has fallen from 47 to 31 per cent
• There is greater scrutiny of missing and absent incidents, with each discussed at both a daily Public Protection Meeting and the Force Daily Management Meeting chaired by the Assistant Chief Constable, also involving senior Control Room Inspectors who have responsibility for categorising each case
• The force has produced a 'missing' persons toolkit to advise frontline officers within an hour of a report
• Control Room technology has been changed within the last fortnight to allow call handlers to more easily access information held about a young person in the past to allow a proper risk assessment
• All care homes where young people are looked after by a local authority have a named police contact who will meet with them at least monthly
• A template form is now available for frontline officers to collect data essential to find a young person as quickly as possible eg a mobile phone number, photograph and home address (and to show where this is not available.)
• Return interviews within 24 hours have been introduced to try to get to the bottom of why they went missing in the first place and to create an 'action plan' for the future
• A protocol is being developed with all three local authorities with police updating them on all the assessments and liaising over information which could help locate 'missing' youngsters

“The real shame about the HMIC report is that it could not include work which had just started, or is being introduced, in its assessment. The facts speak for themselves that the team which started in September is working and producing real results, when you look at the dramatic drop in time taken to find those who have been categorised as 'missing'," said Commissioner Holloway.

“My own office is helping the force to improve our protection of these vulnerable young people, shoulder to shoulder. I brought in a Director of Policy, Anna Ackerman, who is the author of the College of Policing’s recent report on vulnerability who can advise on best practice when dealing with missing and absent youngsters. It is my intention that Anna will help to train both officers and partners, particularly stressing why the return interviews are so vital and what should be included to try to make sure a young person is safe and to understand why they left without notice in the first place.

“One particularly important thing to note is that many of these cases involve young people housed in our county who come from elsewhere, usually London. They often don’t want to be here and want to return to family and friends who are relatively close by. This shows what a challenge this whole issue is for the force to deal with at the same time as 999 calls in life-threatening emergencies," she said.

 High risk cases of 'missing' young people are given urgent attention by 999 response officers and a crime team led by a senior investigator, who is usually a Detective Inspector. Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire has also produced a booklet on vulnerability advising on the relevant checks and legislation which stresses the importance of the issue in the force’s Control Strategy. Some 10 examples of 'missing' cases a month are being examined for the lessons to be learned. In addition, the former Children’s Commissioner, Maggie Atkinson, has been invited to review how the force deals with vulnerability illustrating openness to improvement and advice.

“I hold the Chief Constable and force to account as your Commissioner and all this activity shows exactly what is being done proactively, around the clock, to protect these young people. It is something of a tragedy that this was not part of the recent HMIC report as it was such a blow to public confidence in Bedfordshire Police when the reality proves that this issue is an absolute priority," said Commissioner Holloway.

Bedfordshire’s Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC), Kathryn Holloway, has welcomed the acknowledgement in the latest HMIC Police effectiveness report of Bedfordshire Police (published today – 2 March), that the Force faces a more acute financial challenge than others.

The annual inspection of police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy (PEEL), by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary states that the context within which the Force operates is particularly difficult, as Bedfordshire Police faces significant challenges because it has low levels of funding compared with other forces, but unusually high levels of serious threats and criminality that are not normally dealt with by a force of its size.

Responding to the report Commissioner Holloway said: “I am enormously grateful to the HM Inspector of Constabulary for nailing her colours to the mast in her recent report for supporting me and the Force in recognising the challenges Bedfordshire Police faces because of its low levels of funding.

“The Inspector knows that the Chief Constable, Jon Boutcher, and I are definitely not sitting on our hands waiting for this to happen to make improvements during a critical period when the Government is deciding on the method it will use to decide Bedfordshire’s slice of the national funding ‘pie’ this spring.

“When I came into the role of PCC, in May last year, I promised to increase the Frontline and enhance services for the public, since then Bedfordshire Police has recruited 96 more Police Constables and is recruiting right now to find another 100 this year.”

The HMIC report also states that the Force has been assessed as inadequate in respect of its effectiveness at keeping people safe and reducing crime.  It adds that the overall inadequate grading should not be seen as a reflection of the commitment and hard work of the police officers and staff in Bedfordshire who, day to day are doing their best with the limited resources, and often under extreme pressure, to keep the public safe.

PCC Holloway continued: “Unfortunately, the HMIC latest grading for the Force in the Effectiveness report cannot reflect all the work currently happening, as an Inspector can only give credit for work which is fully completed and bedded in, to prove that it is producing improvements. This makes describing Bedfordshire Police as inadequate rather like criticising a half built house for not being water tight.

“While it is disappointing, it cannot truly surprise anyone that this means an ‘inadequate’ rating until all the new recruitment is in place. What I can do is reassure you that nobody at Bedfordshire Police is complacent about improving its’ service to you and your communities – and this work is well in hand.”

In addition, the latest report recognises the issues Bedfordshire Police faces, saying the Force acknowledges the problems that exist and is determined to improve.  HMIC is hopeful that the commitment of the new Police & Crime Commissioner to focus on community policing and crime prevention, and the determination of chief officers and the continued hard work of frontline officers and staff to make improvements, will lead to the changes needed.

Kathryn Holloway concluded: “The Inspector has told me that this latest report is not an adverse comment on the PCC – far from it.  She sees that renewed recruitment and launch of Community Hubs of officers throughout the county is a driver of improvement.  However, HMIC is becoming frustrated at three years of promises of Community Policing like this would be repopulated, which is why she has felt it necessary to give the grading she has.  She has told me and the Chief Constable that she now finds our plans to have real credibility.

“However, I am certainly not complacent, and getting it right when it comes to the Forces response to young people who run away from local authority care is something which absolutely has to be improved.”

Further comment from PCC Holloway can be viewed in the video below.
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Kathryn Holloway, congratulated community groups from across the county as their work was celebrated at the Community Cohesion Awards 2017.
The Bedfordshire Police Community Cohesion Awards ceremony was attended by over 300 representatives of community groups, volunteers and members of the public from Bedfordshire.  The event acknowledged the work of those groups and individuals who help keep communities in the county safe.  The guests joined officers and staff from Bedfordshire Police and the Community Cohesion Team in celebrating achievements recognised in 21 award categories at the event held in Luton.

PCC Kathryn Holloway said: “These awards represent the true state of play in judging how well Bedfordshire Police connects with communities across neighbourhoods, faith and age groups.

“This was a remarkable event which demonstrated what the Force does best. People are telling me time and time again that their relationship with the police is better than in living memory and that the Cohesion Team is genuinely the glue holding the process together.”

The Community Cohesion Team is committed to embracing diversity and culture, protecting the most vulnerable communities, and breaking down barriers to engage with all communities. Chief Inspector Hob Hoque leads the Team – he commented: “I am tremendously proud of Bedfordshire’s communities and of my team. Together we work hard every day to keep our county safe and peaceful. All of the award winners are well-deserved and we are looking forward to continuing these strong relationships.

“I would also like to say a massive ‘thank you’ to our sponsors, and to our guests for their amazing generosity, as without their support this event would not have been possible.”

The 2017 Community Cohesion Awards were supported and sponsored by Garden Productions, The Bedfordshire Police Partnership Trust, the University of Bedfordshire, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, Pictons Solicitors, Bartham Group, Nadeem’s Plaza and Vauxhall Motors.

Community Cohesion Awards 2017 winners:
• Mary Seacole Hosing Association received a Cohesion Charity Champions award
• The National Community Tension Team received an Advice Ambassadors award
• Ruki Heritage from UoB received an Educational Ambassador award
• Moulana Qazi Abdul Aziz Chishti received a Critical Community Champion award
• Luton Mela and The Big Iftar Planning Team received an Event Inclusion Champions award
• Luton in Harmony was awarded with South Harmony Champions award
• Bedford as One received an Integration Champions award
• Luton Council of Faiths received a Inter Faith Champions award
• Mostaque Koyes received a Cohesion Networking Champion award 
• Queens Park Community Orchard received a North Harmony Champions award
• TOKKO and Victim Support received a Hate Crime Champions award
• Ashfaque Chowdhury received a Cohesion Ambassador award
• Peter Adams received a Mediation Champion award
• Mohammed Nadeem received a Cohesion Business Support Champion award
• The North Independent Advisory Group and the South Independent Advisory Group received a Scrutiny Champion awards
• Luton Town Football Club received a Cohesion Sport Champion award
• Kim Greig received a Projects Champion award
• Sandra Hayes received a Partnership Champion award
• Maureen Drummond received a Diversity Champion award
• Hillborough Junior School, Queens Park Academy and UK Centre for Carnival Arts received a Creativity Champion awards
• Montel Neufville was awarded in two categories as Stop Search Scrutiny Champion and Community Cohesion Choice Award
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Kathryn Holloway reinforced her commitment to re-introduce visible policing into the communities of Bedfordshire, by launching a seventh policing hub in the county based in Ampthill. 

The latest hub, which will see police officers sharing office space with Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, was announced by the PCC at a public meeting held in Ampthill at the Parkside Community Hall on Monday 13 February.  The pooling of resources is part of the collaboration with other emergency services and the Blue Light Integration Project which is being introduced across the county.

Commissioner Holloway said:  “Since taking over the role of PCC, my absolute priority has been increasing the visibility of the Force and your access to officers. It’s exactly what I promised in the run-up to my election, sharing fire stations where police stations had closed where necessary.

“Ampthill will see a police presence coming back to the town.  A policing team including a dedicated officer – PC Aaron Dagley – will be joined by the Head of the Watches, PCSO Juliet Wright, and her visiting colleagues from Neighbourhood Watch, Speedwatch, and Streetwatch etc. An Inspector and Sergeant who work on collaboration with the fire service will hot-desk from there, backed by a community team, based at Biggleswade. This latest ‘Community Hub’ will add to those already announced for Leighton Buzzard, Luton, Bedford, Biggleswade, Dunstable and Houghton Regis.”

Local people should contact Aaron Dagley and Juliet Wright to arrange a meeting at Ampthill Community Fire Station. You should always make an appointment to see officers who will otherwise be out on the streets on duty not sitting in the office waiting for people to drop by.

Blue Light Integration focuses on local blue light service – Bedfordshire Police, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service and the East of England Ambulance Trust - working together to maximise efficiency, improve public service and reduce costs.

PCC Holloway added: “Bedfordshire’s emergency services are continuing to work together to find ways they can share facilities and work more closely to tackle local needs.  Sharing office space at Ampthill Community Fire Station will enable police officers to be on the beat, dealing with issues that matter to the community rather than at a central base filling in paperwork.”

Police also share facilities and office space at fire stations in Leighton Buzzard and Shefford.  Work also continues with the fire service’s community safety team at Bedford Community Fire Station to explore the possibility of teams moving into Luton Police Station in the near future.
Bedfordshire’s Police & Crime Commissioner – Kathryn Holloway launched an event for 160 county businesses to protect them from online criminals.

Organised by Bedfordshire Police, the Cyber Threat Awareness Event was held today (2 February), and aimed at local businesses large and small to provide them with an understanding of cyber threats. For example, the audience was told that UK businesses have lost over £3.2million through impersonation fraud – when a supposed chief executive or managing director instructs invoices to be paid as a matter of urgency via email.

Delivering the opening statement  Commissioner Holloway said: “After 17 years working with some of the UK’s largest companies and their crisis management staff before coming into this role as PCC, I fully understand how vigilant businesses of any size, have to be to keep increasingly sophisticated criminals at bay, who want to attack them online.

“We heard today that impersonation fraud is a massive issue where finance departments are sent what looks like a genuine email instructing them to pay an invoice immediately from the head of the company.  Almost unbelievably, in my first week as PCC, criminals wrote to instruct our Chief Financial Officer to pay just such an invoice, supposedly on my instruction.  Fortunately, at Bedfordshire Police we are a bit more switched on than that!”

Cybercrime is the fastest growing criminal activity in the world and can affect both individuals and businesses. In response to growing demand, in 2016, Bedfordshire Police launched its Cyber Hub; a dedicated unit analysing digital data in cybercrime investigations.

The Cyber Hub investigates a variety of cyber related crimes including cyber bullying, cyber stalking, online fraud, online theft and hacking. Crimes such as child grooming and sex offences are also increasingly taking place online.

Cyber Security Advisor at Bedfordshire Police - Sean O’Neil commented:

“Cybercrime is a growing issue, and it’s vital that we are able to spend time educating people across the county about it and about how to stay safe online.”

Two thirds of UK businesses have been targeted in the past year with an estimated 3.6 million cases of cyber fraud and two million computer misuse offences taking place.
Ampthill residents are being invited by Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner – Kathryn Holloway, to attend a public meeting and hear about the latest policing plans in their area.
The public meeting is being held by the PCC and Bedfordshire Police to announce the arrival of the county’s seventh policing hub situated in Ampthill; a dedicated team of officers offering more visible policing to the area, and the partnership working between the police and Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.
The meeting will be held on Monday 13 February at Parkside Community Hall, and will be led by PCC Kathryn Holloway and Temporary Deputy Chief Constable - Mike Colbourne.
PCC Holloway said:  “I am well aware of the problems in Ampthill, including anti-social behaviour, vehicles exceeding the speed limits and parking offences, as I lived right in the middle of the town for almost five years.”
Part of Commissioner Holloway’s number one priority - in her Police and Crime Plan, is to provide more visible policing in various areas of Bedfordshire, a commitment the PCC has ‘rolled out’ in community hubs across the county. 
Kathryn Holloway continued:  “It’s my ambition to return policing to areas which lack a police presence, and the police could do that in Ampthill by working closely with the Fire Service.”
In addition to the Ampthill event the PCC & Bedfordshire Police have held six previous public meetings in Bedford, Biggleswade, Dunstable, Houghton Regis, Leighton Buzzard and Luton where community hubs were all announced.
To find out more about the Ampthill public meeting contact the Office of Police & Crime Commissioner by calling 01234 842064.