Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner -  
01234 842064
PCC LAUNCHES AMPTHILL POLICING HUB WORKING WITH FIRE SERVICE
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.
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BEDFORDSHIRE PCC LAUNCHES CYBER EVENT TO PROTECT BUSINESSES ONLINE
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.
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PCC INVITES AMPTHILL RESIDENTS TO HAVE THEIR SAY
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.

 
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NEW YEAR - NEW CHALLENGES - BECOME A VOLUNTEER
Would you like to make sure those in police custody are safe and well treated, and to see how the custody suite really works?
 
Bedfordshire’s Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) is looking at 2017 as the year of new challenges and is looking to recruit volunteers to be a part of the Independent Custody Visiting (ICV) Scheme.

PCC Holloway said: “Our ICVs play an absolutely critical role in ensuring that those who find themselves in police cells are well treated by Bedfordshire Police’s staff. This is a vital check and balance to create confidence in the force’s custody arrangements in the wider community.”

The ICV programme is a required scheme which comes under the Police and Reform Act 2002, Bedfordshire’s Police & Crime Commissioner - Kathryn Holloway and her office are currently recruiting ten positions to bolster the dedicated team of volunteers.

Commissioner Holloway continued: “The volunteer custody visitors have achieved significant changes nationally including influencing staff levels to ensure that custody is safe; ensuring proper healthcare is available together with access to blankets, water and toilet rolls as giving the community assurance that there is proper treatment of detainees, including those held in relation to terrorism, to increase overall confidence in the police.”

New ICVs will join the team of 30 volunteers and be responsible for making impromptu visits to the three Bedfordshire Police custody facilities in Kempston, Luton and Dunstable. The volunteers will visit each custody suite, in pairs, both in the day and the evenings on various days throughout the week. Once on site they will carry out a report regarding the treatment of detainees and will carry out checks on their welfare, at a time when they may feel vulnerable and confused as well as looking out for issues around cleanliness and maintenance of the custody suites.

Each volunteer is expected to make a minimum of four visits to the custody suites yearly, write a report for each visit they make, and attend quarterly ICV panel meetings to discuss the key issues from their findings.

This scheme was seen recently when five ICVs were brought in as the first people to visit the Luton Custody facilities following a £0.5 million refurbishment.

Applications for Independent Custody Visitors are open until Tuesday 28 February and can be completed online. Applicants must be aged 18 years or over, reside in Bedfordshire and be a resident in the UK for at least three years prior to the date of application. No specific qualifications are required as full training and support is provided, however Visitors should be good listeners, non-judgmental and unbiased.

Click here for applications and
more information on the Independent Custody Visitors Scheme.

The custody suites of Bedfordshire Police are often featured in the award winning Channel 4 series – 24 Hours in Police Custody – a landmark television documentary programme following the work of the force.

All completed applications and further enquiries regarding ICVs must be sent to Compliance Officer, Katie Beaumont using the email katie.beaumont@bedfordshire.pnn.police.uk
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BEDFORDSHIRE PCC KEEPS PROMISE BOOSTING POLICE FRONT LINE BY 10%
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner – Kathryn Holloway, has fulfilled her promise to assist the introduction of new officers as nearly 200 are set to join – boosting the front line by almost 10 per cent. 
 
PCC Holloway made a commitment in her Police & Crime plan to increase visible policing across Bedfordshire , and has now announced  further opportunities for up and coming police officers in Bedfordshire . 
 
A total of 196 new officers are to be recruited; 56 are already in training, with another 40 set to start in March.  A further 100 officers will be recruited across 2017/18 with six intakes – starting in July this year. The new recruits introduced under Commissioner Holloway’s administration will see officer numbers going from 1,026 to 1,126 serving the county.   
 
PCC Kathryn Holloway said: “When I came into the role as PCC I made the public a promise that I would free as much of the budget as possible to enable recruitment of brand new police officers for highly visible policing in communities.
 
“Last year we were able to recruit a total of 96 new officers. Between now and the end of 2018 a further 100 will be recruited.
 
“To achieve the maximum benefit of new, more visible, policing in communities I want these new officers to be based in areas where I’ve supported the Force in introducing Policing Hubs to deal with local crime in Luton, Bedford, Biggleswade, Dunstable, Houghton Regis and shortly, the mid-Bedfordshire villages around Ampthill.”
 
The first 96 police officers will be welcomed to the Force at the beginning of 2017; Bedfordshire is encouraging candidates from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) backgrounds to apply, as part of a drive to be more reflective of the communities in Bedfordshire. Around a third of the new recruits already enrolled are from BME backgrounds.
 
Chief Constable Jon Boutcher said: “We continue to be more proactive in our approach to recruitment, spending time in the community talking to people about careers with the force and opportunities available. The support we have received has been fantastic, and shows there is a lot of interest in joining.

“Bedfordshire Police is committed to recruiting the very best people to the force; each applicant must pass a rigorous recruitment process which demonstrates they meet the very high standards we expect from all our officers. The people we recruit now will be the lifeblood of the force for years to come.”
 
The application process is now open and candidates are invited to apply online. Applications will close at midnight on 5 February 2017. To find out more information and download an application form go to: http://www.bedfordshire.police.uk/
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BEDFORDSHIRE PCC KATHRYN HOLLOWAY MEETS WITH TRI-FORCE DOG UNIT
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner - Kathryn Holloway, experienced first-hand the work of the Tri-force Dog Unit when she spent the day with PC Mark West and his trusted partner - Police Dog Dexter.

In the last year, the dog unit has attended 8,355 incidents and has successfully arrested 787suspects and found 96 missing people.

The PCC travelled around the county in a canine police vehicle, to gain an understanding of the fantastic work the BCH Dog Unit do.
 
PCC Holloway said: “The work that PC West and Dexter do as a team is outstanding, but this is just the tip of the iceberg of the work that they do on a daily basis visiting various locations across three counties as a deterrent, clocking up a distance of 280 miles a shift.”

“It’s clear that the relationship between handler and their dog is vital to effective policing across Bedfordshire.  Mark and Dexter have a fantastic relationship which is hardly surprising as PC West says he sees more of him than his wife.”

The BCH Dog Unit is a tri-force collaborated unit, working in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, and Hertfordshire. It has 30 handlers and 45 dogs and is a collaborated unit that responds to a range of incidents across the tri-force area.

Each officer handles a German Shepherd, like Dexter, or a similar breed which is trained to track offenders or missing people following the trail left by the person on the ground. They search for people in buildings and open areas, property, chase and detain offenders and protect their handlers and other officers in dangerous situations.

PC Mark West said: “I’m in the job that I love and I’ve got the best partner with Dexter.

“We can hatch release our dogs that jump from the back of a vehicle and out over our laps for a pursuit, and we try to keep them on the trail as much as possible, if they stop they could lose the scent. Our dogs are gradually introduced to demanding situations during training. If it was a public order problem with a noisy crowd I’d try to take Dexter in with another, more experienced dog because it’s incredible how they teach one another and bring them on.”

 
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PCC OPENS FUND AND OFFERS THREE YEAR GRANTS

Bedfordshire’s Police & Crime Commissioner – Kathryn Holloway, has launched her Grant Funds for 2017/18 to encourage projects which protect the vulnerable, tackle hidden harm and prevent crime, and wants to offer funds for three years at a time.
 
The PCC’s Grant Fund works in conjunction with the Commissioner’s Police & Crime Plan, and assists organisations and projects who help to prevent offending, protect communities and support victims of crime to cope, recover and move forward.
 
Announcing the launch of the Grant Fund application process Commissioner Holloway said:  "I promised to give the earliest possible notice of what I'm looking to fund at an event held for all our charitable and other partners in December. I'm now keeping that promise to get the best possible deal for victims across the county and to intervene to stop reoffending wherever possible.
 
"I want those wanting to apply for funds to know exactly what I'm looking for to prepare the best possible cases. I also want to give much greater security to projects than funding them for a single year at a time. Both my office and partners have to spend time every single year going through the same application process when it could be done once for the next three years."
 
Commissioner Holloway had outlined the planned process of allocating funding to would-be applicants at a partnership and community meeting held at Marston Moretaine, on 1 December 2016.
 
The PCC Grant Fund is created by combining a grant from the Ministry of Justice and funding taken from the Bedfordshire Police Force budget.  This will create a single, flexible and accessible grant opportunity that promotes innovative and collaborative working across Bedfordshire. 
 
The OPCC is encouraging applications from projects which that are looking to protect the vulnerable, tackle hidden harm and prevent crime, with a particular emphasis on the following key areas:

  • Violence Against Women and Girls, for example - Domestic Abuse, Serious Sexual Violence and Female Genital Mutilation

  • Youth at risk, for example - trauma reduction, Child Sexual Exploitation, gang related violence and bullying

  • New or innovative projects, for example - work linked to Cyber-Crime, work with the elderly, Human Trafficking, Modern Day Slavery, new crime trends, work with emerging hard-to-reach and hidden victims

  • Capacity building to improve strength and resilience in the sector for example - multi-agency training, partnership development and sustainability
     
    The OPCC works closely with its partners in order to understand the wants and needs of the victim and improving services of the future.  It is holding a series of workshops throughout 2017, inviting stakeholders and victims of crime to consult on the co-design and co-development of a future integrated service.
     
    Applications for the PCC’s Grant Fund 2017/18 close on 17 February, 2017.  More information regarding how to apply by going to the website: http://www.bedfordshire.pcc.police.uk/bedfordshire-pcc-grants-funding

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BEDFORDSHIRE OPCC WORKS WITH PARTNERS TO PUT VICTIMS AT THE CORE
Bedfordshire Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) has moved closer to putting the victim at the centre of the way it works after holding an event to understand the wants and needs of the victim and improving services of the future.
 
Hosting the Victims Day was Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) - Kathryn Holloway, who invited a range of stakeholders and victims of crime to consult on the co-design and co-development of a future integrated service.
 
Commissioner Holloway told the conference:  “This day was my chance to show our partners delivering victims' services throughout Bedfordshire that it is not a sound-bite, when my Police and Crime Plan talks about putting victims at the centre of everything we do in policing and giving them a voice, but a very strongly held personal belief.
 
"I need to work together with our partners to make sure there are not gaps or duplications in victims' support and I want to save the time and money both they and my office are currently spending in grants' commissioning every single year.
 
"That is why I aim to co-commission and allocate funds alongside the former probation service - the Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) on a three year cycle, starting next year. Partners told me they really welcome the greater sustainability this will bring - knowing they have three years' secure funding not just one - and should help enormously in the recruitment and retention of staff.        
 
"Together, the charities and local authorities of Bedfordshire working shoulder to shoulder with me and my office can make a huge difference and I aim to make this county a centre of excellence for victims' services."
    
The Victims Day - held at the Forest Centre, Marston Moretaine, was attended by over 60 representatives from a variety of services across Bedfordshire, when their views were listened to, with feedback from the event being collated and analysed in order to share experience and knowledge.
 
Bethan West, Director of Victim Services and Commissioning for the OPCC said: “The Victims Day was very successful and was a great example of how we can and should work together.
 
“The aim of this event was primarily to engage with partners and stakeholders to build on strengths that already exist.  The day demonstrated how we should communicate to provide the best possible services for victims in Bedfordshire and co-develop a future service putting victims at the centre of the way we work, and breaking the cycle for them and their families.”
 
In early 2017 the OPCC plans to repeat the process with victims of crime; consulting with victims of all ages, from all backgrounds across the county. The OPCC will also obtain views from those (for whatever reason) who do not wish to report crime.  It will also work with service partners to understand fully their views and aspirations of and what they would like to see incorporated in future services.
 
Ms West continued:  “We look forward to holding future events for young people, victims themselves and those who are often hidden from services, due to their lifestyle choices, to hear the real needs of victims in Bedfordshire.
 
“We must strive to ensure victims of crime across the county are supported and given the best chance to recover and move forward.”
 
In 2015 UK Police and Crime Commissioners became responsible for the local commissioning of victim services which are based on the following elements:
 
  • Emotional and practical support services for victims of crime particularly for victims of the most serious crime, persistently targeted victims, and vulnerable of intimidated victims, to help them cope, recover and where possible move from the harm they have experienced.
  • Emotional and practical support services for family members
  • Emotional and practical support services for victims of sexual violence and domestic violence
  • Building the capacity and capability of providers, including Restorative Justice Services, from the Voluntary Community and Social Enterprises sector.
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PCC AND BEDS POLICE HOLD COUNTY'S FIRST RURAL CRIME CONFERENCE
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway joined officers to launch the county’s new Rural Crime Unit in a country crime conference which is a first for the county.
 
The Conference announced the creation of the Rural Crime Unit, overseen by Supt. Greg Horsford and led by Insp. Tracey Day. The unit will have a Sergeant and 4 dedicated Police Constables and have additional backing from 10 Police and Community Support Officers.
 
“The really important thing is that those who come to work on the Rural Crime Unit have a genuine interest in, and knowledge of, the countryside,” said Commissioner Holloway. “For example, Insp. Day is a very keen horsewoman and knows a lot of the farmers and hay, straw and feed suppliers in North Bedfordshire. She has in-depth knowledge of matters such as when hunting is and is not illegal and the law surrounding hunt saboteurs. This means that the Inspector and her team can make a real impact,” said Commissioner Holloway.

She added: “My Police and Crime Plan called for a fair deal on policing whether you live in the town or the country and the new Rural Crime Unit will help to deliver just that, making a real difference within our existing budget.”

Insp. Day explained that she has developed a definition of rural crime for the Force and that such crimes happen because of remote locations in the countryside or the nature of the business at the premises and include the theft of red diesel, horse tack and equipment and agricultural plant. She explained that national requirements for the recording of crime meant that, previously, such issues had not been distinguished as official “crimes” by the Force and that she was arranging accurate recording of such events moving forward.

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner ensured that everyone attending from parish councils, the National Farmers Union, the Countryside Landowners Association and rural town councils, was supplied with a named police contact for every parish together with full contact details by phone and online.

Jim McKeane of the National Farmers Union thanked the Commissioner and police team on behalf of farmers and those who live in rural Bedfordshire for the positive action being taken to protect the country population and businesses.
The 142 parish councils had been asked to supply details of the three top priorities in terms of crime and policing in their area, which were reported back as being speeding, visible policing and anti-social behaviour.

John Loughlin of the Force’s Traffic Management Unit explained why traffic calming measures such as speed humps are the preferred option to help cut speeding in the countryside. “The fact is that traffic calming measures are in place 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, whereas a police officer will only be enforcing speeding at a particular place for a limited time,” he said.

Supt. Greg Horsford, explained the Force’s new policy on illegal traveller encampments, which has been constructed with the three unitary local authorities across the county, Bedford and Luton Borough Councils and Central Bedfordshire Council. The audience welcomed the announcement that the police intend to act from now on, at an early stage, to move on such encampments when they occupy recreational sites and open spaces intended for leisure and deprive locals of their use.

Given the seasonal workers involved in agriculture and those working in rural factories, a presentation to alert the audience to the crime of Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery was given by Justine Currell of Unseen UK, the national helpline to tackle the subject, based in Biggleswade. The Unseen UK helpline is 08000 121 700.
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PCC STRIVES TO MAKE CHANGE IN LAW
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner - Kathryn Holloway, has called for a change in the law on a Late Night Levy on pubs and clubs after local councils and business bodies in the county rejected one based on the law as it stands.

“I do understand their position as the law has been something of a blunt instrument. To charge a Late Night Levy on those who sell alcohol has to be applied across an entire borough rather than just in the area where the pubbing and clubbing culture exists.  I promised I would investigate a Late Night Levy in my Police and Crime Plan, and prior to my election as PCC.  I have kept that promise but I also said it must be fair and I agree that if it draws in tiny village pubs too - rather than just the large high street franchises and nightclubs, that does not look like fairness,” said Commissioner Holloway.

However, the PCC pointed to the large draw on police resources that pubs and clubs create, especially at this time of year, and the need to find a solution to the cost of the extra policing required as a result.  “If you go down Bedford High Street on any Friday or Saturday night after midnight until five in the morning when the last pubs and clubs turn out, you will see for yourself the extra policing that’s unavoidable to keep hundreds of revellers safe, especially now over Christmas and the New Year.

“Multiple officers will be policing the street and at least two sets of officers manning Night Time Economy Vans to deliver a fast response. I regularly visit them unannounced and am entirely certain of the need for them to be present given the crowds of people, often very much the worse the wear for drink, who need to be monitored to prevent disorder. Only football clubs create this sort of additional demand on policing and they pay for the privilege which is why I have taken action to bring about a change in the law to apply it in future only in areas where pubs and clubs dominate the neighbourhood. I’m delighted that it now looks as though the law will change,” she added.

Commissioner Holloway raised the issue of “geo-fencing” pubbing and clubbing areas, and applying the Late Night Levy only to establishments selling alcohol in these areas, with Lord Gordon Wasserman - who acts as a key HM Government point of liaison with PCCs.  The Commissioner continued: “I’m now advised that the amendment has been accepted and this change is now part of the new Police and Crime Bill, due to pass into law in 2017. This is a far fairer position. The issue then is whether the Levy is worth the costs of collection by the councils. I have, as a result, also asked for them to supply me with suggestions of ways to work together to better control the fall-out from the late night economy and contribute to the cost of policing in town centres.” 

A consultation exercise between the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and local authorities and business groups took place between 26 October 2016 and 30 November 2016. The trend of responses from councils was that they could not support a Late Night Levy with the law as it now stands. Bedford Improvement District’s CEO Christina Rowe was not in favour as she felt insufficient funds would be produced to improve town centre policing and the Luton BID pointed to work they are already doing, after discussions with the Commissioner and Deputy Chief Constable, to pay for two Police and Community Support Officers (PCSOs) in the town until Christmas.

The Commissioner negotiated with the Luton BID business organisation to fund the two PCSOs in a pilot up to Christmas which she will ask them to consider continuing in the New Year. In Bedford, the Bedford BID organised an event with the PCC to introduce its members to the possibility of releasing staff to become Special Constables. “I have had fantastic support from the Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) in both towns and now want to explore what can be done to introduce more permanent support in 2017,” said the Commissioner.

In Leighton Buzzard and Houghton Regis the town councils already fund additional policing patrols specifically for their areas.

The PCC has also backed the Chief Constable in a new measure to delegate powers to council wardens in Luton Borough Council’s area to replace police in enforcing parking issues to release officers to other frontline duties in the town. Similar schemes are now being developed with both Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire Council.

“I will continue to explore every possible way the Force can be supported by councils and its other partners to strengthen late night and town centre policing and am supporting those policing plans which are now in place to prevent disorder over what I hope are, for everyone, truly fantastic Christmas and happy and safe New Year celebrations,” concluded Commissioner Holloway.
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PCC LAUNCHES SIXTH NEW POLICING HUB FOR COUNTY IN HOUGHTON REGIS
Commissioner Holloway was joined by Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Mike Colbourne to announce the team consisting of 5 new Police Constables, 5 Police and Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and 5 Anti-Social Behaviour PCSOs and confirmed this is a brand new initiative for Houghton Regis.
 
“The number one priority in my Police and Crime Plan is more visible local policing and I’ve supported the Force in rolling this out through new Community Hub teams of officers in Leighton Buzzard, Luton, Bedford, Biggleswade and Dunstable so far. It’s now Houghton Regis’ turn which is very good news indeed for the town. This team is in addition to the usual 999 response officers and will take officers and PCSOs deployed in Houghton Regis from zero to 15,” the Commissioner told a packed audience at the Community Centre in Bedford Square.
 
DCC Colbourne confirmed that Bedfordshire Police had removed its Community Policing capacity to meet budget cuts four years ago. “But now we’re bringing it back and re-populating policing in the community in towns like Houghton Regis and, as we move ahead, we intend to build community policing throughout the county through on-going recruitment in 2017 and beyond,” he said.
 
The audience also heard from Insp. Annita Clarke who explained the work done since October, working with Central Bedfordshire Council and other partners in the town. She said the project she runs is targeting anti-social behaviour in Houghton Regis, especially in the Bedford Square area.
 
“We’re working together with the council and partners like Groundworks, the fantastic youth group here, to try to tackle the problems around Bedford Square together. We have had officers here talking to groups of youths and disbanding them and stopping problems with fireworks. Some have been “base jumping” on the canopies above the shops which, as a mother, frightens me to death so we’re working with the property owner to see if we can design a way to stop this. We’ve really been getting results since we started targeting this area at the beginning of October.”
 
Insp. Clarke reported that since the project began, there had been a reduction in the total number of ASB incidents in the Bedford Square area. There were 29 incidents reported to the Police in October, this number fell to 18 incidents in November and 5 reported incidents so far in December.
 
There was also a reduction to the number of General ASB incidents reported over the three month period. In October there were 22 which again dropped to 9 in November and 4 reported incidents so far in December.
 
The audience also heard from Sgt. Louise Bates who described the Force’s Op Meteor initiative to target nuisance moped and quad bikers and motorcycles. Sgt. Bates described a recent Action Day which resulted in the seizure of £10,000 in cash, two handguns and “a huge quantity of drugs.” Some 35 bikes were also crushed.
 
The audience also heard a presentation from Wayne Humberstone, head of the Force Control Room explaining when 101 number should be used and when 999 is the best option.
 
“A lot of people still don’t know about 101, which was a national initiative, not one introduced by Bedfordshire Police. Any life-threatening matter or any serious crime in progress, such as discovering your house has been burgled, the door’s open and there’s noise which suggests someone could still be inside is a case for 999. For any other crime it’s 101,” he explained.
 
Martin Darlow, CEO of Bedfordshire Police Partnership Trust’s Bobby Van scheme also explained the security surveys and home security improvements such as door chains and window locks which can be provided entirely free of charge to elderly and vulnerable people.
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POLICE FUNDING SETTLEMENT STAYS STABLE FOR BEDFORDSHIRE ALLOWING PCC TO DELIVER POLICE & CRIME PLAN
Bedfordshire Police & Crime Commissioner – Kathryn Holloway has said that the announcement by the Policing Minister, in the latest Police Funding Settlement 2017-18 for Bedfordshire, to stick with the pledge made in February 2016, resulting in an overall cash neutral position compared to 2016/17, will allow her to continue her work and deliver her Police & Crime Plan.

Responding to the Home Office announcement of the Funding Settlement made today - Thursday 15 December, which outlined £67.4M is to be awarded to Bedfordshire Police - Commissioner Holloway said:

 “I am pleased that the Home Office has provided a cash protection to the level of funding we will receive in Bedfordshire Police, this will allow me to continue my work in delivering the priorities set out in my Police and Crime Plan.  These include a return to more visible community policing across the county, putting victims at the centre of the way we police and prosecute, working with partners to break the cycle of serial offending to prevent crime where possible and protecting the police to protect the public with a proper duty of care.

“However, I will continue to lobby for appropriate funding for Bedfordshire Police to have an  increase in its funding in recognition of the significant challenges this county faces ensuring protection of our local policing teams, safeguarding vulnerable people and delivering effective crime fighting all of which relate more commonly to the very largest city environments. The demands on Bedfordshire Police Force are extensive across communities ranging from large town centres to market towns, villages and hamlets. In comparison to similarly sized areas and those with comparable levels of demand we are still very much a low funded Force.” 

“The welcome news is that the force will have further opportunities to bid for extra funding given the up lift in the transformation fund to £175m. This is a Fund from which Bedfordshire have been relatively successful from in 2016/17, securing funding on a local and regional basis.”

Since becoming PCC in May 2016, Kathryn Holloway has met with Policing Minister - Brandon Lewis, on several occasions to outline the essential need to award appropriate funding to Bedfordshire.  The Commissioner has also asked that the Force be considered for monies to be awarded from the Police Transformation Fund, which is intended to transform policing by investing in digitalisation, a diverse and flexible workforce and new capabilities to respond to changing crimes and threats.

The Commissioner continued:

 “The Home Office has put money aside to support innovative and transformative projects, and I’m very keen that Bedfordshire makes the most of money available from the Police Transformation Fund.  I’ll be working with the Chief Constable to submit high quality bids for projects and programs that will transform policing.

“It’s really important to note that this funding settlement is only a holding a position while the Government works out its news national formula for all 43 police forces in England and Wales – that will not happen before 2017 at the earliest but I am not anticipating any changes when the final announcement is made”

PCC Kathryn Holloway will continue to work with Bedfordshire Police in the commitment of securing more funding for Bedfordshire, focusing on the Police Transformation Fund as well as contributing to the work on the new funding formula.

A recent police watchdog report by Her Majesty Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) recognised the funding challenges for Bedfordshire Force referring to the complex issues it tackles which are more common to a borough in a large metropolitan Police force rather than a largely rural county.
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