Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner -  
01234 842064
PCC praises Luton's Community Safety Partnership and the 'outstanding' success of the Safer Spaces scheme in just a month
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has praised as “outstanding” the success of Luton’s Safer Spaces order after it was used to combat Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) on 112 occasions since its launch on July 5 with the help of the police and wardens.

The Town Centre Public Spaces Protection Order was launched as part of Operation Vision - Bedfordshire Police’s campaign to provide a police presence with high visibility around the issues that most concern residents - including ASB together with Neighbourhood Enforcement Officers, employed by the council but with delegated police powers to deal with nuisance.

“I fully supported the Chief Constable, Jon Boutcher, in delegating powers to deal with the sort of matters that really undermine Luton’s town centre and people’s enjoyment of it and this part of the project, around the Safer Spaces scheme, has been a truly outstanding success, backed by an exemplary Community Safety Partnership with the police, local council and fire colleagues all pulling in exactly the same direction,” said Commissioner Holloway.

“Any way you look at it, using these powers 112 times in a month since the start is helping to clear up trouble spots, make people feel safer and improve the appearance of the town, to encourage visitors,” said the PCC.

“I am really impressed by the way the CSP is looking to find simple, common sense and practical ways to deal with the matters that make people’s lives a misery and to improve the whole Luton Town experience and am proud to be part of it,” she said.

Councillor Aslan Khan, who is the lead for Community Safety, said: “As the portfolio holder for community safety, I am pleased to see that our multi-agency approach in implementing public space protection orders is already having a positive effect on people’s lives. We want to ensure that our town centre is safe, welcoming and vibrant. I would also encourage people to contact trusted organisations such as NOAH for supporting people who are sleeping rough into adequate accommodation.”

The Safer Spaces Protection Order places restrictions on:-

* Drinking alcohol outside licensed premises

* Urinating and defecating  

* Begging

* Spitting

It also requires dog owners to remove dog waste and to keep their pets on a lead and under control at all times.

The order can be enforced by both police and the council’s Neighbourhood Enforcement Officers. Breach of the order results in a fine of £75 which, if unpaid, can result in prosecution through the Magistrates’ Court.

The Luton business organisation BID has backed the scheme, paying for signage for the protected area. Until the permanent signs arrive, visitors to the town centre will spot laminated signs spelling out these conditions. 
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PCC invites councillors to join MPs for a shift with Bedfordshire Police to support the 'Give a Day to Policing' campaign
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, is welcoming local councillors and Mayors from around the county to join MPs in a national campaign to ‘Give a Day to Policing” - spending time on the frontline and in force control to experience the pressures on the Force for themselves.

The ‘Give a Day to Policing’ scheme was set up by the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) with the endorsement of PCCs and encourages police forces to invite local MPs to spend a day (or shift) with them between 20 July and 5 September to give them the chance to experience what life is really like on their local frontline.

Commissioner Holloway sees this as an opportunity to invite local councillors, their Mayors or leaders, to do likewise to see and hear at first hand what it is like to police the wards and areas they represent.

“It's just as valuable for our council leaders and members to have the same chance as MPs to spend a full day or shift with police officers and staff. This is particularly true since we need all our public representatives to have a far better understanding of the wider strategic picture of crime demand and challenges Bedfordshire, outside their own individual wards and constituencies. Sometimes people can be vocal critics of policing when this sort of opportunity can provide that insight by demonstrating that Bedfordshire Police doesn’t have spare officers sitting behind desks or languishing in canteens, who could be deployed on the streets - this is a Force at full stretch,” she said.

Among the first to take advantage of this invitation, now open to all councillors, was Mayor Paul Mackin from Shefford who worked closely with Bedfordshire Police’s Community North Team to resolve a series of issues relating to Anti Social Behaviour (ASB) in his own town last year and with the PCC to publicise the results at a packed meeting with local residents, with thousands of spectators online.

Mayor Mackin said he had decided to give a day to policing to improve his understanding of what Bedfordshire Police is dealing with county-wide. “I wanted to ‘give a day to policing’ because I, as Chairman of the Town Council and Town Mayor, often get asked questions about our police service; why they did not come when called, why we don’t have officers on the street and so on. I also find myself in the position of having to talk with senior officers and sometimes passing on complaints from members of the public. To have these conversations and to make sensible replies to the public I need to know what I am talking about. The best way of doing that is by spending time working with officers and control room staff,” he said. 

During his visit, the Mayor went out with officers responding to emergency calls in the north of the county and then spent time in the Force Control Room with call handlers answering 999 and 101 calls. 

“Today’s visit to the Control Room and the time spent with a Response officer was very interesting, a bit exciting and somewhat concerning. Sitting next to control room staff it was easy to see the volume of calls that come in, many of which are only a ‘police issue’ due to the fact that there is no other agency to deal with the problems of people who need help of some sort. The sheer number of calls prevents staff from being able to allocate them all to officers. Control room staff have to make fast assessments as to the correct action to take, then complete all the required records. I saw some frustration in the fact that they could not deal with all the calls as they would want to. Then, of course, some members of the public can be very rude and demanding.

“The time I spent with the Response officer started with a ‘blue light ‘run from Biggleswade to the centre of Bedford to back up officers dealing with a serious incident. This again highlighted just how short of police officers we are. It also meant that officers can be on their own for some time after an incident starts. The time with the Response officer was very busy. It was a case of going from job to job for the rest of the afternoon,” added the Mayor. 

“Overall it was a day well spent. It was clear just how much all the staff wanted to work in the jobs they had and how much they all enjoyed their jobs. I would recommend that all councillors and people in similar public posts should spend at least a day with a police officer,” he added.

“I’m absolutely delighted that Mayor Mackin gave up his time to join Bedfordshire Police for the day to find out for himself what issues officers and staff face. I make the argument regarding our low officer numbers to Government constantly and explain that I am doing so to our representatives but they can only really appreciate the gap between the huge public and crime demands in this area compared with approximately 1,100 officers to deal with them, when close up. The Force is looking forward to welcoming South West Bedfordshire MP, Andrew Selous, to spend his day with policing imminently and I hope his fellow MPs, whatever their politics, and those councillors most concerned about the future of policing, will join him. I will let the public know who took up this invitation in the monthly newsletter on my office website after the campaign has closed but we have an open door policy for public representatives and, if holidays get in the way, we’ll arrange a day here at any time,” said Commissioner Holloway.

Councillors and MPs can organise their own chance to ‘give a day to policing’ by contacting the Bedfordshire Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner via email - PCC@bedfordshire.pnn.police.uk or calling 01234 842064.
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PCC's office awarded 145 thousand pounds to help provide talking therapies for sexual assault victims for two years
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has been awarded funding from NHS England, amounting to £145,000 over two years, to provide talking therapies for victims of recent sexual offences and rape. 

The programme will offer a maximum of 12 sessions of talking therapy following a disclosure of sexual abuse, including child sexual abuse, to the Sexual Assault Referral Clinic. The therapy will help to improve victims’ emotional health, as well as promoting stabilisation, safety and recovery for male and female adults and children in the aftermath of a sexual offence whether or not the crime has been reported to police.

“I am absolutely delighted that my team has accessed funds for some of the most vulnerable victims of crime in our county - who have been referred to our delivery services, The Hope Programme for adults and EMBRACE Child Victims of Crime who are supporting children and young people, by the Sexual Assaults Referral Clinic after suffering from this type of attack or abuse.

“Getting access to talking therapy with a qualified, trained counsellor at precisely the time when the victim themselves considers it most useful to them can only be of enormous benefit and positively influence the quality of life that that victim goes on to experience in the short, medium and longer term future,” said Commissioner Holloway.

The work to identify the funding was undertaken by the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner’s Director of Victim Services, Bethan West, who works closely with victims and organisations across the county and could identify a real need for the service.

“This funding award is an excellent piece of collaborative work between the Bedfordshire PCC and NHS England. We hope it will lead to other partnership working and co-commissioning of services in the future. The two organisations delivering the services are experts in their field and we are confident they will provide the very best support for those that need it across Bedfordshire,” said Bethan West.

“It’s my task, together with my office team to fund support for victims to the best of my ability and I can assure the public that we track down every possible source of funding to do so, including this scheme with the NHS,” added the PCC.

Margaret Barker from Bedfordshire’s Victim Partnership and the Hope Programme said: “We are pleased to be part of this important innovative service. Each person copes with trauma in different ways, many still do not seek help.  Our early specialist counselling will enable them to begin to address the trauma and harm caused by the crimes and make choices for their personal recovery.  The direct link between us and the SARC will reduce the added distress of waiting times and connect people to other community help. 

Anne Campbell, CEO of Embrace said: “We are thrilled to be working in Bedfordshire and in partnership with the Police and Crime Commissioner, the NHS and The Hope Programme. Our aim is to deliver a service that is tailored to young lives, is easy to access and truly makes a difference.  We know that talking about problems works.”

The programme will start running from August 2018 and will receive referrals directly from the Sexual Assault Referral Clinic (SARC) which can be contacted on 01234 897 504.
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PCC marks the end of her second year with roadshow across the county - EVENT AMENDMENT
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has marked the end of her second year in the role by arranging a series of public meetings around the county, with the first meeting having taken place in Luton on 4 July. 

The next meeting was due to take place in Leighton Buzzard on 30 July, however, due to some Councillors having prior commitments on that day, it has been agreed that the meeting will be now re-scheduled to a more convenient date in August, to assist a number of town councillors who had requested this as they would be on holiday on the original date. The PCC wanted to make it entirely clear that she is happy to meet all commentators and that no attempt whatsoever was being made to prevent this. Naturally it will not always be possible to alter meeting and venue dates for a small number of individuals but, happily, on this occasion we were able to arrange this.

The meeting in Leighton Buzzard will now take place on Thursday, 30 August 2018, between 6.30pm and 8.30pm at the Mentmore Road Pavillion.

As scheduled, the next PCC public meeting will take place in Dunstable on Wednesday, 22 August 2018, between 6.30pm and 8.30pm at the Dunstable Fire Station. 

For a full updated list of the Commissioner’s upcoming public meetings please see below:

Wednesday 22 August 2018 – 6.30-8.30pm – Dunstable – Dunstable Fire Station 

Thursday 30 August 2018 - 6.30 -8.30pm – Leighton Buzzard - Mentmore Road Pavillion, Mentmore Road, Linslade

Wednesday 12 September 2018 - 6.30-8.30pm – Sandy – Council Chamber, Sandy Town Council

Monday 8 October 2018 - 6.30-8.30pm – Bedford – Lecture Theatre, Police HQ, Kempston, MK43 9AX

Wednesday 7 November 2018 - 6.30-8.30pm – Biggleswade – Venue tbc.

Wednesday 28 November 2018 - 6.30-8.30pm - Shefford – Venue tbc.

For more information regarding these events or to request a copy of the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner ‘Two Year On’ Report, please contact Public Information Officer, Grace Foster by emailing:  
grace.foster-wakeling@bedfordshire.pnn.police.uk

 
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PCC marks a century of voting by celebrating 100 women who make Bedfordshire safer at awards event creating forum for policing
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has recognised 100 women from Bedfordshire who work tirelessly to keep the public safe at a unique awards event (Monday July 23) to commemorate a century of votes for women - launching a women’s forum to help police in future, starting with those who attended. 

Over one hundred women from across Bedfordshire, and their partners and colleagues, attended the celebration, held at the Kings House, Bedford, to congratulate 31 finalists who were nominated for their hard work and ten women who received awards in recognition of their outstanding achievements. These included the Volunteer of the Year, Young Person of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Award (full list detailed below).   
 
“The fact that there was a need to celebrate these outstanding women publicly and that this has not been happening in Bedfordshire was underlined for me by the sheer number of nominations for these awards and the length of testimonials which ran to an incredible 7,000 pages in total. It meant that anyone who was shortlisted, let alone won, had genuinely been recognised as absolutely outstanding in their field of public service, whether working for the police and other blue lights, in health, education, local authorities or businesses and charities,” said Commissioner Holloway.

“While I wanted to provide a real afternoon of celebration in a fantastic setting, over an afternoon tea to remember, what I really wanted to achieve from the event was a lasting legacy, linking these incredible women together through the launch of a Bedfordshire Women’s Network, to be consulted by my office and Bedfordshire Police over future policy, whether over Domestic Abuse or Serious Youth Violence or achievable ways to improve policing of their communities as examples, and to give them a platform to informally share their valuable viewpoints, to network and support one another and that’s just what we’ve done,” said the PCC.

The event – “100 Women who make Bedfordshire Safer” - recognised award-winners from across Bedfordshire’s many communities. The Lifetime Achievement Award rewarded an individual with a long history of exceptional work to make her community safer and went to Bedford’s Cllr. Colleen Atkins.

PCC Holloway said, “The judges deliberated long and hard over the shortlisted nominees saying that all the shortlisted applications were genuinely worthy lifetime achievers but the majority of the panel, including me, had personal experience of working with Colleen and seeing her burning the midnight oil and delivering a level of public service above and beyond what has been expected of her in her professional roles, whether as a Community Safety Lead or Chair of the Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, Time and time again I have seen Colleen at events wherever I go in the county!”

On receiving her award, Colleen said: “I am overwhelmed to have received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Kathryn. It was a lovely surprise and a great honour, especially after hearing there were 7,000 pages of submissions! Thank you to Kathryn for her excellent initiative in setting up the Awards to recognise women safeguarding Bedfordshire and to mark 100 years of women getting the vote. It was a very touching hearing the inspirational stories of the different ways women are making our county safer with their dedication and remarkable commitment. Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make this event brilliant – and for my Award!”

Chair of the Police and Crime Panel, Paul Cain said: “I thought it was a fabulous event and I was delighted and honoured to be invited. I really do hope this turns into an annual event celebrating the wonderful hard-working women we are so lucky to have in Bedfordshire. It was wonderful to be able to present the Lifetime Achievement Award to Colleen Atkins, who was on the very first Police and Crime Panel with me back in 2012.”

The coveted Woman of the Year Award went to Supt. Juliette Everette of Bedfordshire Police for her dedication to the county’s current campaign against knife crime and for the way she has encouraged and inspired generations of new police recruits. 

“I’m so incredibly proud and wasn’t expecting this at all. I am so passionate about what I do as a day job. I absolutely love being a police officer and I’m totally committed to making Bedfordshire a much safer place. Thank you so much for this award,” said Supt. Everette.  
For women working around the county with young people, the Young Persons' Award recognised an individual or team who had worked with young people by either educating or supporting them with a view to making them safer. The winner, Hayley Mills, set up and runs the Bedford Borough Youth Cabinet which is made up of young people from every school in the area and from community groups who come together to influence decisions and change things for others like them.

“I would just like to say thank you for everyone involved in the awards, from the person who nominated me, to the team who organised it, through to the PCC and presenters. It was a lovely event and very inspirational. As for winning the award, I am still in shock! Working with children and young people is such a privilege; watching their journey and seeing them grow in confidence and self-esteem is the hugest honour. It is lovely to be win an award. I must however share this with my amazing team and of course the children and young people who make going to work enjoyable and rewarding,” said Hayley Mills.

Also attending the celebration was the Governor of HMP Bedford, Helen Clayton-Hoare, who said, “My thanks to the PCC for hosting what was an inspirational event.  It was a true celebration of the part that women play in making Bedfordshire a safer place. I am very pleased to be part of the new women’s network for Bedfordshire.”

Among the award winners was her member of staff Liz Walker, who won the Offender Rehabilitation award, after being nominated by her boss, for her work with staff to rebuild the prison team after disorder caused it to close temporarily. 

During the event, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Chief Executive Clare Kelly, Bedfordshire Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire and Head of Continuous Improvement, Audrey Campbell, helped Commissioner Holloway to launch the Bedfordshire Women’s Network (BWN), with Mrs Kelly and Mrs Campbell as the founding chairs of the new networking group.

“We were thrilled with how many people wanted to become part of the Women’s Network and are really looking forward to supporting, working with and celebrating the women of Bedfordshire as the network grows,” said Clare Kelly and Audrey Campbell.  

Bedfordshire Police’s ACC Jackie Sebire, told the audience how delighted she was at the creation of the network and of her earlier experiences in policing, including being asked to make the tea in groups when she was the only woman present, even when working as a Detective Inspector on the homicide team in one of the most demanding policing areas in the Metropolitan Police.

“There are so many talented women working in Bedfordshire and having a network where we can inspire and support one another will provide such an opportunity for us to develop and learn from one another. So much has improved for women in the workplace however we can never be complacent and those of us who have been successful have a responsibility to support and share our experiences with those who are starting their journey in the working world,” said ACC Sebire.

Anyone wishing to be part of the Bedfordshire Women’s Network can join BWN by emailing Clare.Kelly@Bedfordshire.pnn.police.uk.

“This afternoon event and the legacy it will create through the BWN are one of the absolute highlights to me of my time in the role as PCC so far. It brought together women who did not know one another from across both communities and organisations and I saw and heard them networking for myself as I sincerely hope will be the case long into the future. We talk a lot about joint-working to improve public service but to do that we have to know one another exists and know one another as people and that’s just what this event, ultimately, was all about,” said Commissioner Holloway.

 

Please see below for the full list of awards and winners:-

Volunteer of the Year Award

Winner – Lorna Markland

The final judging panel commented on the person who has been recognised in this category with the following statement “the nomination of this person outlined how this lady has become a lynch pin putting the fight against knives and guns as a priority, and for this reason she is a very worthy winner.”


Young Person of the Year Award
Winner – Hayley Mills 

Comments from the judges about the chosen winner included:  “this person is someone who is working with all to engage at a particularly difficult level; the awards process itself has made the PCC aware of the work being done by this lady and the Youth Council which was described as the future.”


Health Carer of the Year Award
Winner – Karen Patchett 

This was said to be one of the most difficult decisions to make by the judging panel who recognised the contributions of all nominees including the work of the Mental Health Street Triage which was described as invaluable.  

 

It is fair to say that the judges were entirely split on their decision, but eventually agreed that the person to recognize today was an unsung hero who should be congratulated for her work in establishing and highlighting the work of other services less well known.”


Offender Rehabilitation Award
Winner – Liz Walker

Commenting on the work of this category winner the judges said:  “In difficult circumstances this person has brought about change to enable offenders to rehabilitate from prison to civilian life and to help reduce reoffending.  Her work should be recognised and congratulated.”


Community Group Award
Winner – MARA 

The final judging panel commented on this group:  “they may not be as well-known as some of the other nominees in this category, but are trying from within their community to make a difference.  The future of Midland Road is a priority of the PCC and as a panel we believe they are the deserved winners of this award.”


Blue Light Award
Winner – PCSO Nadine Mee 

Referring to the outstanding work of this person the judging panel said:  “she is building a bridge of confidence across all communities, and should be recognised for going above and beyond making a difference in Luton and is an outstanding PCSO.”

Victims' Services Award
Winner – Wendie Harvey 

Comments made during the final judging process included: “this lady shows on-going commitment to victims which she has done over a lifetime; inspiring others to do the same over so many years.  In fact, if she were a serving police officer we would be awarding her a long service medal too!”


Lifetime Achievement Award
Winner – Colleen Atkins MBE 

The judges deliberated long and hard over the shortlisted nominees saying “all applications were worthy lifetime achievers. But, the majority of the panel (who have had personal experience of this lady burning the midnight oil and going above and beyond what is expected of her time and time again).


Survivors Award
Winner – Leanne Gearing 

For this category the judges said that all nominees had shown great courage and dedication.

 

However, after much deliberation, they have chosen a winner and said about her:

“There is no doubt that this person has had multiple hurdles to overcome in her life.  She has emerged from the darkness in to the light to help others.”


Woman of the Year Award
Winner – Superintendent Juliette Everett  

 

“The prevention of knife crime is sadly, a priority for Bedfordshire Police and because of tireless work in the county as a whole we have managed to retain a lower rise of this specific crime type than many other areas across our Country.

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PCC launches free health help and screening service for officers and staff which will produce first ever report in the country to assess the wellbeing of an entire police force
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has launched a free health screening service and drop-in surgery for officers and staff to further boost the police frontline in partnership with the University of Bedfordshire - and the information gathered will create the first report ever created in the country to assess the wellbeing of an entire police force.  

The health improvement services, which were launched (11 July) at the University’s Bedford campus, demonstrate the PCC’s continued commitment to fulfil the pledge she made in her Police and Crime Plan to protect the protectors and are supported by the police union, the Police Federation. In recognition of the demands of the job and the physical and mental impact that police work can have on the health, fitness and wellbeing of officers and staff, a health screening service is also being offered to officers and staff, along with a monthly drop in surgery and access to the University’s specialist equipment and facilities. 

“This free health help and screening service is pioneering in its concept. Looking after your people should be at the forefront of what every organisation does, but more so with the police service as we ask so much of our police officers and staff. Policing is inherently a dangerous occupation and it is absolutely vital we try and repair physically and mentally unwell officers as quickly as possible. Kathryn Holloway and all the partners involved in this initiative deserve credit for what has been achieved so far and what will be achieved in the future,” said Jim Mallen, Chairman of the Bedfordshire Police Federation.

The health screening appointments will, first and foremost, allow each individual officer and staff member to understand what they can do to improve their health in a personalised way. The wholly confidential information gathered will also provide the PCC and Bedfordshire Police's Chief Officer team with evidence which will inform a detailed understanding of the health and strength of the Force, allowing support to be targeted on teams of officers working in particularly demanding roles. Ongoing help is being provided via monthly drop-in appointments with the University of Bedfordshire School of Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation students to improve fitness, address injuries as they occur and reduce sickness. 

“I’m absolutely delighted that this effective partnership is now in place in which everyone is a winner: our police officers and staff get access to health assistance to help with their physical and mental wellbeing, the public can be assured that everything possible is being done to support them into full health and full frontline service, the Force will end up with the first report on the health and fitness of a UK police force to plan to reduce health risks and the university’s students will get meaningful work experience and testimonials to help them towards future employment as they assist their tutors in delivery of this programme of work,” said Commissioner Holloway.

“The University of Bedfordshire is known worldwide for the quality of its Sports Science facilities and Human Performance Unit. Our officers and staff will get the chance to attend monthly drop ins at first Kempston HQ and then Luton Police Station to access help with everything from physiotherapy and specialist assistance with physical movement, then able to access cutting edge equipment and diagnostic tools which provide everything from gait analysis, strength recovery and conditioning to asthma monitoring and a diabetes clinic. These services now complement and enhance the existing range of mental and physical health support services available via the occupational health unit which is delivered with our neighbouring forces in Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire,” said the Commissioner. 

One of the first officers to go through the health screening was Community Policing Inspector Paul Ayling. “I have really enjoyed today. It's been a good opportunity to find out about my own physical health and wellbeing. It's really interesting to find the areas where I can improve my own physical health and, more importantly, I think it's a really important step forward for the Force. It's going to allow individuals to take ownership of their own wellbeing and also for the Force to be able to look at us and be able to put measures in place to support us both physically and mentally,” he said. 

“We are hugely proud and excited to be working with Bedfordshire Police to gain a greater understanding of the health and wellbeing of its workforce. I am hoping the Force will benefit greatly by understanding where the greatest needs are and then provide strategies to improve the health and wellbeing of Bedfordshire Police and, hopefully, that will in turn reduce sickness absence. It's a fantastic opportunity for the university to build data around our emergency responders which will hopefully be something we can build on,” said Dr Joanna Richards, Senior Lecturer in Exercise Physiology for the University of Bedfordshire.

The service is imminently to deliver a force-wide study to assess the psychological wellbeing of officers and staff working for Bedfordshire Police. Lead by Chartered Psychologist Dr Angel Chater, students from the University will, initially, carry out a force-wide, anonymous, survey to understand their mental health, stress levels and associated behaviours and then provide advice on how to make positive changes that will build resilience for coping with stress and trauma, support wellbeing, and direct officers in need to the correct professional support services.  

“The work of police officers and staff, both in the field and behind the desk, can have many challenges, but it is not currently common practice to monitor psychological health. It is well known that poor psychological wellbeing can lead to a number of health concerns, both physically and emotionally.  We are delighted to be working with Bedfordshire Police, via the OPCC, on a piece of co-created research to understand the levels of stress, emotion and a personal sense of control among all staff.  Our force-wide psychological survey will run alongside physiological testing to investigate links between these psychological factors, behaviours that may be detrimental to health (such as alcohol use or sitting for long periods of time), wellbeing and physical health. This insight will help us to develop future targeted interventions to reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and enhance mental health” said Dr Angel Chater, Health Psychologist and Reader in Health Psychology and Behaviour Change.

Attending the launch was the politically independent Chair of the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel, Paul Cain, who felt the partnership with the University should pave the way for other emergency services to look at setting up similar services. “What I have seen today is outstanding. It is using local partners to help the Force in an area where it is definitely needed. If this gets only a few officers back to full duties quicker than with no help, or helps to prevent a health issue or injury, then it is worth gold,” said Mr Cain. 

Anna Akerman, OPCC Director of Policy, who was responsible for bringing the Commissioner’s idea of working with the University and using its state of the art facilities into being said: “I've been overwhelmed with the popularity of the drop-in surgery and that the new service has already reached and helped over 40 police officers and staff in a variety of different ways. 

“We know that police officers are so often injured on duty and need expert advice and ongoing therapies to get them back to full fitness for operational duties. It's a privilege to work with experts at the cutting edge of science in sports therapy and to provide these services and facilities, alongside health screening and wellbeing support for Bedfordshire Police. The research and free full body screening service will mean that support can be extended to help keep our whole workforce fit and healthy. We will then zone-in on problem areas targeting both mental and physical health services for those teams who really need the most support – in an evidence-based way” said Anna Akerman. 

At least 150 officers and staff from across all departments of the Force will receive free health screens worth at least £200 each, if accessed through a private provider, and the information they share which is a basis for the whole force health assessment is to be monitored closely by the College of Policing’s ‘What Works’ team. 

“This started as an idea before I was elected which was included in my Police and Crime Plan and has grown from a desire to find an affordable and achievable way to access top class health advice and facilities for the officers and staff of Bedfordshire Police into a British first with potential to help all of Policing” said Commissioner Holloway.
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Celebrating 100 days of supporting victims
The Signpost Hub has provided support to 1,745 victims of crime since it was launched 100 days ago and raised a flag today (Wednesday) to celebrate its commitment to putting victims at the heart of everything it does.

The flag was raised at Bedfordshire Police Headquarters in Kempston, by Detective Chief Superintendent Sharn Basra, along with Signpost Hub staff, partners and the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Kathryn Holloway.

The Signpost Hub launched on 1 April to enhance the emotional and practical support and access to restorative justice for all victims of crime. By its second month the hub had already exceeded the total number of victims who were supported by the previous provider in the year prior to the hub opening.

Victim care co-ordinators aim to make contact with a victim within 24 hours of a crime being reported. The hub also provides support to those affected by the crime such as children, partners and parents. It provides a one-stop shop offering access to available help, support, advice and guidance, with referrals to a wide range of specialist support organisations.

Since opening the hub has also progressed 65 restorative justice cases. Restorative justice enables victims to meet or communicate with their offender to explain the full impact the crime has had on them and to ask questions important to them, which helps to repair the damage caused by the crime.

Kevin Vanterpool, Head of Victim Services, said: “I am really pleased with how well the team has responded in the first 100 days, which shows the first class support and care we’re giving, placing victims at the heart of everything we do. We hope to see this level of support continue to increase in the coming months.”

The hub is a join initiative with Commissioner Holloway and her office, which is funding the new service. She said: “The evidence shows that the Signpost Hub has been an overwhelming success in improving access to support for those affected by crime and it’s an incredible testament to the whole team of Victim Care Coordinators that so many people have been helped in so little time since its launch at the beginning of April.

“My aim for the Signpost Hub, and the website of all high quality victim support services in the county which lies behind it (signpostforbedfordshire.com), which were jointly developed by my office with Bedfordshire Police, has quite simply been to transform the assistance available to victims of crime to recover and move on in their lives. What’s more the Signpost service is available on six days a week and to those who may not have experienced the crime themselves but have been deeply impacted by it."

If you have been affected by crime the Signpost Hub offers free and confidential support to victims in Bedfordshire, whether it has been reported to police or not and irrespective of where and when the crime occurred. Contact 0800 0282887 or visit www.signpostforbedfordshire.com for further information.
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PCC confirms Beds Police invest 40% of resources in policing Luton at public meeting to mark end of second year
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, marked the end of her second year in the role with the first of a series of public meetings, in Luton, to explain progress - and confirmed 40% of the Force’s resources are invested in its largest town.

The Commissioner held a meeting at Youthscape in Bute Street, on Wednesday July 4, 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 Cancelled - new date and venue tbc

 

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

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PCC backs communities in call for surgeons in schools to drive down knife crime
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway says she’s prepared to help fund work in schools with surgeons showing students the real life consequences of knife crime after community members pitched the idea to her at a community safety meeting in Luton.

Against a backdrop of a 4% rise in knife crime across the county over the past year, the Commissioner was attending an event to brainstorm ideas to combat knife and gang crime with an audience of residents, councillors and community group leaders many of whom had never worked with police or her office before.

“Those around me were absolutely right when they pointed out that only surgeons truly see the impact of knife crime close-up. They are stitching together teenagers who should have their whole lives ahead of them but who will, at best, be scarred for life instead,” said the PCC.

“As a result I’m going to ask the surgical teams who work at Luton and Dunstable and Bedford Hospitals if they’ll be prepared to go into our schools to show pupils the reality of where knife carrying leads. They already deliver workshops to organisations like the Youth Offending Services but this is a brilliant, common sense idea and I want to make sure it becomes a reality.

“Quite understandably, many residents at this event were giving up their time more in hope than anticipation. They’ve attended meeting after meeting over the years and I, like them, want to make absolutely sure that this one isn’t a talking shop but a springboard for action.

“This idea was one of a multitude of practical, sensible and constructive suggestions that my Office and every one of the organisations who hold the purse strings have a responsibility to try to turn into reality. We can’t keep on doing things in the same way or we’ll just get the same results and let young people down. The absolute tragedy is that I’m told that many of them are carrying knives in the mistaken belief that it makes them safer but, in the run up to a campaign my Office ran this Spring to get pupils to create their own anti-knife crime radio ad, we all heard that almost half of the young men killed in the Metropolitan Police area in the previous year were murdered with their own weapons,” she said.

The Commissioner said that the community ideas raised with her to combat knife crime included:-

* An anonymous reporting line for passing on information about the whereabouts of weapons hidden by gangs which could be organised through Crimestoppers with a campaign to stress that it is impossible for callers to be traced or identified on the freephone Crimestoppers’ line 

* Providing ‘safe spaces’ for young people after school and also for parents to get advice over gangs and knife issues, set away from gang hotspots

* A ‘youth parliament’ to gather the views of young people themselves rather than imposing them, however well-meaning

* A theatre performance offered to all parents to see the graphic production recently commissioned by the PCC for all pupils of 11 and over in the county  

* A march or similar event with the message “our children, our problem” to drive home the reality that their communities and families completely reject the knife carrying culture

* Establish the ‘influencers” who young people will listen to in their communities whether DJs or those well-known as musicians or for sports and get them to lead campaigns

*Start anti-gang education and support far earlier - in primary schools

“There are no quick fixes for this but the tragedy is that knife-carrying will take the lives of more of our children before it is dramatically reduced unless we try all the suggestions put to us and fund them together. Youth clubs have virtually disappeared, both the authorities and communities themselves have to get them re-started along the lines of the outstanding ‘Right Time to Shine’ which I back in Lewsey Farm, only minutes away from this meeting venue.

“Last weekend two boys ended up in Luton and Dunstable Hospital with serious, life-changing injuries after a group gathered with knives and machetes in Leagrave. I want to congratulate the Luton Community Safety Partnership for having the courage to tackle this head on, and within days, with this follow-up meeting. Now let’s see all those who have some funding to make a difference do just that and provide what communities and kids themselves think will make a difference and do it quickly as there is no time to lose,” she said.

The meeting was held from 6-8pm on Monday 2 July at the Chalk Hills Academy (Leagrave High Street, Luton) and was attended by members of the Luton Community Safety Partnership, David Collins of the Youth Offending Service in Luton and Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire and Superintendent Juliette Everett for Bedfordshire Police.

The PCC is now intending to hire a theatre in the town, and also in Bedford, in term time to offer parents the chance to view the hard-hitting production by theatre production company Alter Ego to illustrate the dangers of getting involved in ‘county lines’ activity, carrying drugs, cash and weapons for older gang members and a second, equally graphic, mini-play based on a real life story of a boy lured into exploitation by a paedophile gang.
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PCC in launch of Bedfordshire's first service for male victims of domestic abuse - and spreads word that police will help men to discover whether their partner has a history of violence
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, helped launch the first service in the county to provide crucial support for male victims of domestic abuse and stressed that men too can take advantage of the law to reveal a partner’s violent past. 

The Commissioner has invested £25,239 in the men and boys’ service, to be delivered by Families First Bedfordshire through men’s groups at its Goldington Family Centre base in Bedford assisted by the Hope Programme, which delivers specialist one-to-one counselling. She addressed the launch event (6 June), expressing her horror that it has taken until now to provide male victims with the type of service which has been available to women and girls for years. 

“Boys can clearly be victims of sexual abuse and exploitation as children and I am fully aware of the physical abuse and coercive control which can be exerted by some women involving their partners. A Commissioner is here to close the gaps in services for victims and that is precisely what I am doing by investing more than £25,000 in this new service at Family First and helping support talking therapies at the Hope Programme,” said the Commissioner.

“It is truly horrifying to me that, in 2018, this is the very first support service, providing help from highly trained specialist counsellors and advisors, to be made available to men and boys in Bedfordshire.”

The PCC also called on detectives present at the event to explain that men and boys can also ask police to confirm whether or not their partner has kept a violent past secret from them.
DCI Jerry Waite, who works within Bedfordshire Police’s specialist Emerald Team, the unit which investigates Domestic Abuse, confirmed that although data protection rules are observed, a man or boy can ask the police for help in the same way as a woman. 

“All members of the public have the right to ask about their partner’s criminal history. The law allowing this is the domestic violence disclosure scheme and allows people to ask the police if they have any information about their partner that they should know to help them understand if they or their family are at any risk from that person. This law is not gender specific and men can make the request as well as women. Requests can be made by visiting your local police station or calling the police on 101,” said DCI Waite.

DCI Waite also praised the new support service for male victims. “Providing support for the survivors of Domestic Abuse cannot be underestimated. The vital work in aiding recovery is so important and Families First have taken that to the next level in providing support for male victims of Domestic Abuse. 

“Domestic abuse against men is an almost hidden crime as men find it difficult to talk and disclose that they are victims. That’s why organisations like Families First are so important to change this and to give those male survivors the chance to get that support.”

During the launch, those attending heard from Alex Skeel who was subjected to physical abuse, denied food and sleep and was isolated from his friends and family by his former partner, Jordan Worth. Bedfordshire Police worked hard to secure what is thought to be the UK’s first conviction for coercive control involving a female offender and Worth was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison. 

“The service I received from the officers that came to my house, through investigation and detection, then victim care; Bedfordshire Police were fantastic. I believe the reason I survived to tell my story is to help others going through a similar ordeal. I don’t want one more person to suffer what I’ve gone through.

“I would implore anyone in a similar situation to ask for help. Help is available, and you will be believed,” said Alex Skeel.

“I’m proud to say that, at the Force’s recent training events for all officers to stress the culture the Chief Constable and I expect in our policing, Alex’s was the first case that was shown to indicate the achievements Bedfordshire Police is most proud of for the past year. It was the work of one perceptive officer, who gently talked Alex into opening up and revealing the truth about the injuries being inflicted on him and the control being exerted over his life, that led to this prosecution and help for Alex himself,” said PCC Holloway.

The one to one counselling service which works in conjunction with the men’s group at Families First, is provided by the highly experienced practitioners of the Hope Programme run by Margaret Barker.

“I am delighted that Kathryn Holloway our Bedfordshire PCC has granted funding for putting in place much needed support for male victims of domestic and sexual violence.  We have 3-4 calls per week from men asking for help to recover from the trauma of abuse.   Let's be clear trauma is not a mental illness it is long lasting harm caused by violence.  Thank you to our PCC for this important funding,” said Margaret Barker.

 
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Policing Minister tells Bedfordshire Police they are 'a shining example' in recruitment of minorities at national conference and makes commitment to addressing the funding of the Force
Policing Minister Nick Hurd brought good news to Bedfordshire while attending a national conference on diversity in policing (7 June 2018) as he congratulated Bedfordshire Police on the “shining example” they represent to policing as a whole through recent exemplary recruitment across minority communities - and also declared his intention to review the funding of the notoriously stretched force as early as next year and in the approaching five year review of police funding nationwide.

Mr Hurd came to this year’s conference, which was held at Bedfordshire Police HQ in Kempston, after hearing about the work taking place in the county to encourage a more diverse workforce, to be more reflective of the county’s communities. He said the progress at Bedfordshire Police showed increased diversity in policing is possible “if there is a will” and congratulated PCC Kathryn Holloway and Chief Constable Jon Boutcher on their work together to drive forward this improvement.

“It’s absolutely clear that Nick Hurd fully understands the very significant progress made by Bedfordshire Police in this area and he, quite rightly, points to the fact that no force should ignore the need to recruit across diversity even where, unlike ourselves, there are no significant black, asian or other minority populations in the force area. This is a wider issue than that, to make sure that we recruit the best of the best from the widest pool and that’s precisely what we are doing here in this county,” said Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway.

“Everyone who knows me knows that I’m interested in being an effective PCC, not just being PC - politically correct. We need to have access to recruits across every race and culture and who bring their understanding of faiths, communities and multiple languages to policing,” she said.

In 2016, when Commissioner Holloway was elected and joined Bedfordshire Police, the Force was the third worst in the country in terms of diversity and representation. Approximately 5.5% of the workforce was from diverse backgrounds although 23.5% of Bedfordshire's communities came from these. Since December 2016, the Force has recruited 206 new police officers with up to a third of the intakes from BME backgrounds and is now the third most representative force in the country, following the Metropolitan Police and Greater Manchester Police. Some 11% of Bedfordshire Police’s workforce is now from BME communities.

BME Network Chair, Inspector Mike Chand, said: “It was a pleasure to welcome Mr Hurd to the annual conference, and we’re pleased he has recognised the work that’s happened at Bedfordshire Police to improve our diversity. We know we need to be more reflective of our communities, and we’re committed to recruiting the very best people to join the force.”

After his address on diversity in policing, the Minister moved to discuss funding of Bedfordshire Police, which receives among the lowest Government grants in policing as well as being among the lowest in terms of council tax receipts. 

He told the audience of his commitment to revising the funding of the Force. Mr Hurd first made reference to an enhanced cash package for policing as a whole in the 2019-20 Spending Review, in line with a speech from the new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, at the recent Police Federation Conference in Birmingham on 23 May 2018. In answer to questions, he also gave a commitment to address Bedfordshire Police’s historically unfair share of the national funding pot, in view of its many very challenging and complex crime issues - including terrorism, serious organised crime and gang, gun and knife crime. The Minister suggested that the Home Office is fully aware of the need to build special assistance for the Force into its current funding review which is to address the policing budget for the approaching five-year period.

“It’s obviously incredibly welcome that the Minister appears to fully recognise the need to finally and comprehensively review the funding of Bedfordshire Police. He referred twice to the five year spending review on which work has recently started, as the main vehicle for this, but appeared to commit to particular assistance before then, as early as next year,” said the Commissioner.

“He joked with the audience that he couldn’t ignore the issue as he can’t escape the texts and messages he receives from me but, on a more serious note, he congratulated both me and the Chief Constable in terms of the way we have made the case for Bedfordshire Police funding, so far,” said Commissioner Holloway.

 
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PCC commissions hard-hitting production on child sexual exploitation and 'county lines' for frontline officers and pupils to protect vulnerable teenagers
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, is to pay for a graphic drama production for schools throughout the county to drive home the dangers of the grooming of children by gangs - particularly those dealing drugs along so-called “county lines” - and was present to see a sample from the theatre company which is being delivered to every member of the Force.

A hard hitting production is being shown to all Bedfordshire Police officers to better explain the struggles some young people face when dealing with sexual exploitation by adults seeking to groom them at points in their lives when they are estranged from their families or schools or are otherwise vulnerable.

The unique production is being performed by theatre company AlterEgo at Bedfordshire Police’s annual Better4Bedfordshire training events. It is based on a real life story and shows how a teenage boy‘s life was turned upside down following the death of his mother which resulted in him being excluded from school and continually reported as missing to the police by his father, who suffered problems with alcohol. The production proceeds to show how the boy’s vulnerabilities were quickly picked up on by an older man who blackmailed, drugged and sexually abused him.

“There’s no way to sanitise what is going on in a world where a troubled teenager is seen as an opportunity by adults or older teenagers who first offer acceptance, hospitality and shelter only to suggest that this is a debt that the victim needs to pay off financially, sexually or both,” said the Commissioner.

“In Bedfordshire, as in other counties close to large urban areas such as London, gangs are exploiting young people to deal drugs and carry weapons on their behalf in operations known as ‘county lines’.

“Over the next year, every pupil over 11 in our schools will see a graphic production which does not pull punches over the dangers associated with “county lines” as the result of my Commissioning Fund,” she said. 

"The 30-minute sample play was watched by staff and officers of all ranks during their annual training and was very well received. Many of those watching, including the officers sitting with me, said how surprised they were at how realistic and genuinely emotive it was to watch,” said the PCC. 

Police Constable Tom Phelan, who works in the Response team for the south of the county, said: “As a frontline officer dealing with safeguarding day in day out, it can be easy to forget what genuine issues could be present behind the obvious. The play during Better4Bedfordshire had a huge impact on me, thoroughly reminding me of how important it is to look a little deeper during routine tasks, as it may be this extra attention which then exposes a bigger picture.

“I know that I will now look at my regular dealings differently, making sure that I keep the true story, which the production was based on, in the back of my mind as this may well help in identifying people in need of genuine intervention. I am really grateful to the actors in their portrayal of the story.”

Commissioner Holloway told officers and staff that she is to create a focus group of young people who have been involved in gangs and knife carrying or at risk of being entrapped where ‘county lines’ criminality is concerned, to comment on the scripts and help shape the full schools’ performance in the ‘county lines’ drama.

“I have a dread of poor theatre in education shows that just don’t sound realistic to the kids watching and get in the way of the message. What’s so impressed me about AlterEgo is that the production company is actively welcoming the involvement of young people from Bedfordshire and fully understands that even though it’s delivering performances in other counties, there are going to be subtle local differences that need to be built in for authenticity.”

Sean McGrath, Creative Director for AlterEgo Creative Solutions, said: “Missing the picture was especially adapted for Better4Bedfordshire events from applied theatre project – Crashing. The play was developed to raise awareness about the links between child sexual exploitation, homelessness, sofa serving and missing children.

“It also aims to highlight the behaviour which young people might exhibit if they are being exploited, behaviour that can too easily make them appear to be trouble makers when in fact it is a sign of their abuse. We would like to thank both Bedfordshire Police and Commissioner Holloway for their support and help to develop the programme.”

AlterEgo has previously delivered a production across Bedfordshire schools called “Chelsea’s Choice” about child sexual exploitation. “I’m told that at performance after performance of ‘Chelsea’s Choice’ pupils came up and disclosed abuse which they or those they knew had experienced. I have absolutely no doubt at all that this hugely talented group of actors and directors can create a production which makes an impact which pupils will remember all their lives, especially if they could get such a strong reaction from experienced police officers,” said PCC Holloway.
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