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OPCC welcomes volunteers from Bedfordshire to Norfolk to ICV Regional Conference
Bedfordshire’s Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) welcomed over 70 volunteers working to ensure proper treatment of those in custody to the Independent Custody Visitors' (ICV) Eastern Regional Conference at Police HQ. (Saturday 21 April 2018).

The office of the Bedfordshire PCC, Kathryn Holloway, leads independent custody inspections by volunteers from force areas throughout the East of England.

Throughout the conference, they heard from speakers including Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Lay on drug use by those in custody, Tom Milson from the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) on recent changes to the police complaints procedure, the Home Office and Doctor Sabrina Valentino on healthcare in custody. They also received a presentation from the Bedfordshire OPCC’s Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Justine Currell, who was able to offer her expertise as she is also the director of the Modern Slavery charity, Unseen, to explain to the volunteers what signs to look out for to spot evidence of Human Trafficking in custody. 

“I was extremely pleased to attend the recent ICV conference to recognise the important role our volunteers play in ensuring the wellbeing of those detained in custody.  The importance of local community volunteers, speaking with detainees to ensure their wellbeing and treatment and who have the ability to raise any concerns they have with custody staff is key to the integrity of the custody process and I applaud their ongoing commitment,” said Deputy PCC, Justine Currell.

“My office was delighted to host the ICVs from throughout the region who are extremely ably led by the representative within my office, Katie Beaumont. We should remember that those who are held in custody are innocent until proven guilty and that, in any case, it is a mark of civilised law enforcement that those who are brought into custody are treated properly. The tireless - and unpaid - work of the ICVs, making unannounced visits to all our custody suites, helps to ensure that this is the case and that high standards are maintained,” said Bedfordshire’s Commissioner Holloway.

“In this county, we have invested in completely revamping the custody suite at Luton, which viewers of the C4 documentary series “24 Hours in Police Custody” will no doubt have spotted. At Kempston HQ we have a modern and clean, but temporary, custody block which I am looking to replace as a matter of urgency,” she said.

Throughout the Eastern region, there are 154 ICVs assessing the care of those in custody suites in six force areas in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.

ICVs are members of the local community who, working in pairs, call at police stations without notice, at any time of day and night. The visitors can speak to detainees about their treatment or conditions and take up any issues of concern with custody staff. A short report of their findings is made prior to leaving the station. Their work provides the PCC, and in turn the community, with assurance that anyone arrested by the police and held in custody is treated fairly and has access to appropriate facilities.

The Commissioner’s office works closely with volunteers to ensure that they regularly visit Bedfordshire's custody suites throughout the year. The scheme in Bedfordshire is run by OPCC Compliance Officer, Katie Beaumont. Katie, who is also the ICV Director for the Eastern Region, arranged the conference for the ICVs to ensure those volunteering are equipped with the most up to date training and information. 

“I was delighted to organise Bedfordshire’s opportunity to host the ICV Regional Conference. We had a fantastic turn-out, with volunteers coming from as far as Norfolk and Suffolk to hear from our expert speakers. Most importantly, we got the chance to say thank you for their continued dedication in volunteering their time to visit custody suites across the region,” said Katie Beaumont.

Bedfordshire’s ICV Volunteer Lead, Mark Mason, said, “It was an exceptional Regional Conference from the Bedfordshire OPCC, with plenty of networking opportunities and professional speakers. I have certainly learned more about the different aspects of custody from the need for appropriate adults to accompany the vulnerable to immigration which I can use to enhance my visiting skills and share with my fellow ICVs.” 

For more information about the ICV Scheme and to apply, please visit our ICV page on the website.
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PCC commends six special constables for one and a half centuries of voluntary work while setting up volunteer conference at Police HQ
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has singled out six officers working for the Special Constabulary for their long service totalling almost 150 years with Bedfordshire Police, as her office is set to welcome further volunteers to the  Independent Custody Visitors’ Regional Conference at Police HQ (Saturday 21 April).

Between them, Acting Special Chief Officer Clint Sharp, Special Chief Inspector Michael O’Mahoney, Special Superintendent Derek Grey, Special Superintendent Stephen Dobbs, Special Constable Tracey Bateman and Special Sergeant Martin White have volunteered with Bedfordshire Police for 149 years. As Specials, they have full police powers but contribute their time absolutely free of charge. All six received awards for Long Service and good conduct at a ceremony on Tuesday (10 April) at Police Headquarters in Kempston.

“These officers have proved absolutely outstanding in their service to the public and Bedfordshire Police. Our thin blue line is well understood by our residents and, therefore, the impact of the Special Constabulary is of particular importance in this county. It’s hugely important that we continue to recruit volunteers to boost the frontline.

“The Force currently has 1000 volunteers working in various roles from victim care to administration and maintaining transparency and public confidence. Earlier this month (4 April), the new victims’ support service, the Signpost Hub, was launched and will also be in need of additional support from volunteers to help care for victims and work as practitioners facilitating conferences for Restorative Justice - where victims meet those who committed crimes against them to explain the impact on them,” said Commissioner Holloway.

This week (21 April), the Commissioner’s office will welcome Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) from across the Eastern Region to a conference held at Bedfordshire Police Headquarters to hear from speakers and receive further training to help them in their role as volunteers assessing the care of those in custody suites in six force areas across the region, in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.

“Independent Custody Visitors are hugely important in ensuring that those who are in custody who, we need to remember, are innocent until proved guilty, receive a proper duty of care. ICVs provide transparency and public reassurance that those in police custody are treated properly and lawfully. My office leads the East on ICVs and we are very much looking forward to welcoming the region’s volunteers and thanking them for their support and time,” said the PCC.

The OPCC and Force’s recruitment of volunteers is open throughout the year. For more information and to apply please visit our Independent Custody Visitors' page or Bedfordshire Police.
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Bedfordshire's PCC attends Home Secretary's Ending Serious Violence launch and details plans for the county
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, was invited to attend the London launch of the Home Secretary’s new national strategy to deal with Serious Violence, gang and knife crime and pointed to the work being done by her office and the Force to tackle the issue in this county.

 Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, launched the new strategy, along with £11m for an Early Intervention Fund to be delivered through Community Safety Partnerships which involve police, mental health services, councils and the fire service to tackle rising knife crime, at a conference at the Coin Street Community Centre on London’s South Bank on Monday 9 April 2018.

 "This strategy and the money that comes with it is, of course, welcome in Bedfordshire. What the Force and I fully realise is that solutions to drive down knife and gang crime need to come from working with communities, not imposing our views on them. That’s why last year and this, I have been funding projects to work with young people which are led by the families and friends of those who have lost their lives in this way such as Right Time to Shine in Luton, who run a youth club and recording studio in the Lewsey Farm area, and a project in Bedford led by Channitta Lendore, whose brother, Isaac Stone, was murdered," said Commissioner.

 "My new grants round only ended a fortnight ago but projects dealing with knife carrying and gangs are a dominant theme and reflect the measures specifically called for in the new Government report such as working with the organisation Red Thread which intervenes to support young people to leave gangs following admissions to A&E departments with related injuries. My office has already introduced them to the department at Luton and Dunstable Hospital and, while the grant bid asked me to fund a year long study to prove the need for the service here in order to raise funding from the NHS, I’ve asked for it to be done in six months so that we can get on with introducing this service in Bedfordshire, after its significant success in the major casualty centres in London.

"Red Thread is currently launching its services in only two other areas outside London as a proof of concept - Nottingham and West Midlands - which would make Bedfordshire the first which is not a large metropolitan area or major trauma centre and I sincerely hope that we could attract Home Office funding to help us develop the service as a result.

 "The new strategy calls for joint working with partners, such as local authorities, to tackle the problem of gangs. We are putting together a countywide strategy around gangs and serious youth violence right now as a direct result of studies across the three council areas which I commissioned from the Home Office's specialist team last year, which mapped all the information known about gang members and those carrying knives from police, the Youth Offending Service (YoS) and council safeguarding teams. Nobody can claim they don’t have an issue and don’t need to act with us to contain it as a result," said the PCC.

Where knife crime is concerned, the PCC has funded training within schools and her office and the Force worked with 200 pupils in a competition to make a radio ad to impact on their peers regarding knife carrying. This year she will fund a theatre production for all schools with pupils of 11 and over in Bedfordshire to inform young people about the dangers of so-called “county lines” in which gangs from outside an area try to recruit the vulnerable and the young to carry drugs and weapons for them, in order to avoid the risk of arrest themselves.

Bedfordshire Police is delivering an intensive anti-knife crime strategy with local authorities and schools, in particular, to provide advice around knife and gang issues and close involvement with and monitoring of key individuals known to have habitually carried knives in the county. It runs frequent weapons’ amnesties in conjunction with the national Op Sceptre campaign and the crime prevention team has taken more than 1,000 weapons off the streets of Bedfordshire in the last six months.

"In Bedfordshire, knife crime has risen by 4% over the last year which is worrying enough and we are still seeing young people losing lives and being wounded in a way that was unthinkable just a couple of years ago. However, we haven’t seen the very significant rise at the level which has produced all the recent tragedies in London. I am pleased that the work being done here precisely reflects the advice which has been acknowledged as advisable and ‘best practise’ in this national Serious Violence Strategy but we will never be complacent, which is why anti-knife and gang commissions have been right at the heart of my funding for the financial year ahead," said Commissioner Holloway.
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PCC proves Bedfordshire Police is 'ahead of the curve' in fighting knife, gun and gang crime, launching new initiatives as Home Sec reveals national strategy
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, announced a further raft of projects funded by her office to fight the scourge of knife, gun and gang crime across the county, as the Home Secretary called on forces to do more - and her intention to bid for a share of £11m pledged for early intervention.

“I firmly believe that the best solutions to problems come from within communities directly affected by knife, gun and gang crime themselves. That’s why both last year and this, in the commissioning fund I am announcing now, I am funding projects led by the relatives of those who were murdered in this way, in both Luton and Bedford, as they can provide the most powerful testimony possible to influence other young people. As examples, I support an outstanding youth club and recording studio project - Right Time to Shine - in the Lewsey Farm area of Luton, where one of the youth leaders lost his brother in this way and my office and the Force work extremely closely with Channitta Lendore, whose brother Isaac Stone was murdered in Bedford, who now works with young people to illustrate the absolute devastation caused by his death within her family and wider community,” said Commissioner Holloway.

“We have seen young people dying in this county and I fully intend to bid for a share of the new £11m fund for early intervention for Bedfordshire.

“However, to get all our partners on board and really be prepared to even acknowledge that there are now gang issues throughout this county, including those dealing drugs along county lines out of London and other major cities which is a core aim of the new Home Office strategy, I funded its experts to work in Bedfordshire throughout the last year as an independent third party, to prove what is happening here in a way that is beyond challenge."

Commissioner Holloway commissioned the Home Office’s specialist Ending Youth Violence team to work with Bedfordshire Police, the Youth Offending Service and local councils to pool all known activity about gang members and those found to be carrying knives and other weapons in three reviews covering all the county’s unitary local authorities. These are now being used as the basis for creating a county-wide strategy around gang and weapons issues. 

“The scale of the problem we face is exemplified by the result of the most recent weapons’ amnesty in Bedfordshire as part of the national Op Sceptre amnesty scheme: in just seven bins, Bedfordshire Police recovered 700 knives, 10 guns and 2 grenades which most people outside law and enforcement would struggle to comprehend,” said PCC Holloway.

She announced that she is engaging the organisation Red Thread, which is specifically praised in the Home Secretary’s report for its work to divert young people from gang activity in London’s major trauma centre hospitals. “I didn’t even let them leave the building when they came in to pitch for the feasibility work to establish the case for them to work in Bedfordshire’s hospitals as a basis for the funding argument. My office had already introduced them to the A&E team from the Luton and Dunstable Hospital to get things started. Their original bid was for a study taking a year, but young people are dying and I can’t wait a year so they have been funded to put this together in six months. 

“I’m also announcing the funding of work with children as young as 11 within all our schools to better understand the acute dangers of carrying weapons and getting sucked into gang activity. For example, I am backing a theatre production delivered by Alter Ego - to deliver the message about county lines after the success of the production company with its “Chelsea’s Choice” play about Child Sexual Exploitation.  

“My office has already successfully bid for £40,000 in Home Office Community funding for projects with Safer London to train teachers and other frontline staff about county lines and Growing Against Violence to provide anti knife crime projects in schools and will this year again fund a project involving around 200 pupils to create a radio ad warning their peers of the dangers of carrying knives.

"I, of course, fully support Bedfordshire Police’s own extensive current initiatives which reflect the requirements of the Home Secretary’s Serious Violence Strategy including engaging directly and regularly with more than 40 young people and their families who have been known to carry knives, working with teachers and pupils to explain the choices and consequences of gang involvement and, operationally, in hot spot policing of areas known to have been associated with such problems,” said Commissioner Holloway.

The Commissioner was present for the launch of the new Serious Violence Strategy by the Home Secretary at the Coin Street Community Centre on London’s South Bank on Monday 10 April 2018.
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New service launched to give first class support to victims of crime
An enhanced new service for victims of crime in Bedfordshire has been launched today (5 April) by the Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway.
 
The new Signpost Hub is based at Bedfordshire Police Headquarters, in Kempston, and takes over from Victim Support. The free and confidential service is a one-stop-shop for all the information a victim of crime needs to know. It aims to give first class support and care to both victims and those connected to them, such as partners, children or parents. It will also provide access to Restorative Justice, which brings those harmed by crime and those responsible for the harm into communication, often face to face, enabling those affected by a particular incident to express their views of what the crime meant to them, and to find a positive way forward.

The Signpost Hub is a join initiative with Commissioner Holloway and her office, which is funding the new service. She said: “The Signpost Hub aims to help support a victim as they progress through the entire criminal justice process, from the report of a crime, right the way through to attending court. It also meets my statutory duties to provide support to those affected by crime, whether or not they have chosen to report that crime to police.

“Our specialist Victim Care Co-ordinators will have access to all the support services available in the county, and knowledge of those which are likely to be most beneficial to the victim. The hub of advisors will sit alongside partners from these same services to help them to get access to precisely the right advice. Police officers can also drop in and get guidance from experts too, to help with particularly difficult cases involving vulnerable victims.”

Kevin Vanterpool, Head of Victim Care at the Signpost Hub, added: “The service will build on the force’s commitment to putting victims at the heart of everything we do, and being responsive to victim’s needs. We hope to give victims greater confidence and satisfaction throughout their journey in coping, recovering and moving forward in their life after crime.”

For further information visit the Signpost Hub website or contact 0800 0282 887.

 
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PCC allocates 1.6 million pounds from Grant Fund to help victims and reduce crime in Bedfordshire
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has been in the hot seat for the past fortnight to decide which organisations will be awarded money from her Grant Fund to help victims and reduce crime in Bedfordshire over the next year and she has tried to involve a wider cross section of our communities than ever before in making the decisions.

The commissioning team received applications for the 2018/19 Grant Fund totalling more than £2.6 million worth of bids to help victims and increase community safety in the county. Over the last two weeks (12 – 26 March), 24 of the 76 applicants have been presenting for an hour each to a panel of experts and residents from across the county who decide if any of the £1.6 million of grant funding will be allocated to them.

“I’ve promised to be a Commissioner for all communities and I’ve tried very hard to reflect this in the make-up of the grants’ panels. Those who wanted to launch projects to work with young people had to present to a panel with three youth representatives helping to ask questions about their proposed projects, for example. We’ve had representation from our diverse communities and from the LGBT community too. This isn’t tokenism. It’s making sure that those who might benefit directly from some of these schemes have a genuine say in whether they feel these are the best ways to tackle problems and help victims of crimes from knife crime to hate crime,” said Commissioner Holloway.

“The bids we’ve reviewed together so far range from providing access to affordable housing, life and employment skills training and overnight shelters for the homeless to youth activities in areas associated with gang and knife crime. In the weeks ahead we will hear from those providing support for women and children escaping violence at home and we’ve already heard from a proposed project to help male victims of domestic and sexual abuse,” she said.

The panels also included safeguarding experts from local authorities across Bedfordshire and charities together with the independent chair of the Police and Crime Panel, Paul Cain.

“This was my first opportunity to sit in and review all of the funding applications. It was an excellent opportunity to see and hear all of the superb applications and ideas. I personally found it an excellent learning experience and to see first-hand the open and transparent process followed in granting this important funding.

"It also demonstrated the excellent work of the OPCC in joining up so many of the ideas and opportunities from a vast array of organisations,” said Mr Cain.

“It’s incredibly important to me that this process is free from any suggestion of taint - that it’s seen to be fair, balanced and open and is based purely on the quality of the bids and the people who want to lead these projects. I have almost twice the number of bids as funds available and I will make sure that anyone who is unsuccessful has the opportunity to gain feedback which could improve their chances in future years,” said the PCC.

The application process for the Grant Fund was officially launched at the start of the year (Wednesday, 3 January) and closed on Monday 19 February resulting in 76 applications having been received.

The PCC’s Grant Fund is created by combining a grant from the Ministry of Justice and funding from the Bedfordshire Police force budget, producing a flexible and accessible grant opportunity aimed at promoting innovative and collaborative working across Bedfordshire.
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PCC thanks hoteliers for working with Bedfordshire Police and councils over Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, says she hugely appreciates the time and support of those who work in Bedfordshire’s hotels to help police combat child sexual exploitation.

The comment comes after more than 20 of the county’s hotels sent staff to an event organised by Bedfordshire Police, Central Bedfordshire and Luton and Bedford Borough councils which was held, appropriately enough, at a hotel - The Chiltern in Luton - earlier this month (16 March).

“It’s so hugely appreciated by me that these hotels were prepared to release their staff, just as we go into the key Easter and Summer seasons, to learn what to look out for to keep children in this county safer,” said Commissioner Holloway.

“There are predatory adults - primarily men - who can occasionally be spotted taking much younger teenagers, who are clearly not related to them, into hotel rooms, which should set the alarm bells ringing for anybody working there,” added the PCC.

The event attended by hotel employees, from management to receptionists, aimed to increase awareness of CSE and develop their understanding of how to report any concerns they might have. Attendees heard from speakers from Bedfordshire Police and other organisations and charities such as YouTurn Futures and CYP First.

Pete Gomm, Bedfordshire Police’s CSE Co-ordinator said, “Hotels can be used as locations to meet and groom children, so it’s vital that we work with Bedfordshire’s hoteliers to ensure they are aware of the signs of CSE and know how to report any concerns. I was pleased to see so many people attend the conference, supportive of our work and our messaging and I look forward to continuing to work with other hotels in the future.”

“Across Bedfordshire we are tackling CSE together; the support, awareness and response of hoteliers is key to preventing CSE from happening within their settings. We will continue to raise awareness and safeguard children together,” said Lisa Robinson, Bedfordshire’s CSE Coordinator.

“The fact is that most law abiding members of society, who would not dream of preying on a child, might not stop to consider what is right in front of their eyes and I know, as PCC, that some adults are using hotels to groom and sexually exploit such vulnerable young people. This training was about teaching hotel front of house staff what to look out for and, crucially, how to raise those concerns for them to be checked out by Bedfordshire Police.

“I’m a mother of two myself and I would rather, by far, that someone made a mistake and asked searching questions of my husband and I in error than that either of them could have come to harm because observers were too reticent to get involved,” said the PCC.

Visit http://bedfordshireagainstcse.org/ for more information.
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PCC welcomes Inspector's view that Bedfordshire Police is the most improved force in the country for Effectiveness
Just one year on from a finding by the police watchdog, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary & Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) which gave Bedfordshire Police a unique grading of ‘inadequate’, the Force has been acknowledged as the most improved in the country, by its new Inspector, Matt Parr.

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway said: "Naturally I am delighted that our new HMI, Matt Parr, has confirmed to the Force that he sees Bedfordshire Police as having made the greatest improvement when it comes to Effectiveness, following last year’s report.

"It reflects the hard work and commitment of officers and staff, particularly in relation to the Force's response to those children who are looked after by local authorities but who frequently abscond. I feel it also much more accurately reflects an appreciation of Bedfordshire Police’s outstanding efforts in the area of community engagement which were exemplified by the Community Cohesion Thank you Dinner in February, attended by around 450 members of our communities, regardless of faith, age, culture and area.

"Bedfordshire Police will always do all in its power to address the areas for improvement highlighted in the reports of HMICFRS and this will be the case in relation to the feedback released today."
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Giving you a voice - PCC launches annual survey to get public's thoughts on policing
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has launched her annual survey, giving the people of Bedfordshire a chance to have their say on policing in the county.

The survey can be found at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/BedsPCC18, with the closing date for submissions being Sunday 15 April. Following the survey, all the data will be collated and the OPCC will publish a report on its findings on Monday 21 May.

Commissioner Holloway said, “I have pledged to be a Commissioner for all communities. A method of helping me continue to achieve that is by finding out your thoughts on policing in Bedfordshire and what matters to you. As a result, my office has devised this survey which will give me an insight as your PCC into how I can help deliver improved policing across Bedfordshire.

“Giving you a voice is extremely important to me and that is why I would really like to hear from as many of you as possible.”

The survey includes questions asking for residents’ views on local priorities when it comes to policing, contacting the Force and the new website, Signpost, to support victims - www.signpostforbedfordshire.com. It is being sent out to residents across the county and the results will help the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner, police and partners to better understand issues at a local level and bring about positive changes.

“May I take this opportunity to thank those of you who will take the time to complete the survey. It will allow us to better understand your views and priorities concerning policing which can only be for the benefit of residents as a whole to build the best possible service,” added the PCC.
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PCC's new Chief of Staff with 13 year Force background unanimously approved by Panel
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has chosen a former call handler and radio dispatcher, a criminologist who has spent more than 13 years with the Force, as her new Chief of Staff.

Clare Kelly, 32, received the unanimous support of the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel at her formal Confirmation Hearing at Bedford Borough Hall today (12 March 2018) after being questioned by each member present

“For some 11 months since I became Police and Crime Commissioner, Clare has worked for me - both as my interim Chief of Staff and in a Force Liaison role, especially created for her to enable me to benefit from her professional force ‘memory’,” said Commissioner Holloway.

“Clare is understated, modest, a high achiever who hits every single deadline and a manager who genuinely tries to understand and support her team to be the best that they can be. Her promotion to the permanent role of Chief of Staff is not only hugely deserved, but should reassure everyone that Clare will always support me in trying to achieve what is best for Bedfordshire Police and the public we serve,” added the PCC.

Clare is a familiar face in a new role – having had a 13 year history working within Bedfordshire Police. After graduating in Criminology, Clare spent her first five years with the Force at the sharp end of directing Response officers, as what was then called an FCR “operative,” first as a call handler and then working on the radios, liaising with officers. She moved on to become Staff Officer to a Chief Superintendent, before completing postgraduate studies in police-related research and data management.

Clare worked extensively as a Project Manager within the Force, including a role driving the vital £25m savings programme which helped to secure a future for Bedfordshire Police, before taking on the Head of Corporate role. In this post, she was pivotal in helping the Force to understand how better to recruit a workforce which looks and sounds more like our public, in terms of diversity.

“After being questioned by every member of the Police and Crime Panel who hold me to account, at her Confirmation Hearing today, her appointment was unanimously approved. Quite an achievement at 32 and a sign that the Force and I are genuinely working shoulder to shoulder to create an ever brighter future for Bedfordshire Police,” said the Commissioner.

Paul Cain, Chair of the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel said, “The Panel met to hear from Clare Kelly regarding her appointment as Chief of Staff for the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner. The Panel unanimously supported this appointment, and look forward to working with Ms Kelly in the future.”
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School children take to the airwaves in radio competition to halt knife crime
The Grange Academy in Kempston has been crowned winner of a countywide Bedfordshire Police knife crime competition.

The school was one of 20 that took part in a series of knife crime workshops run by Collaborate Digital and funded by Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway. Around 200 pupils were invited to take part in the workshops, which aimed to educate young people about the dangers of carrying a knife by asking them to script and record a radio advert aimed at other young people.

A special awards ceremony was held to announce the winners at Police Headquarters on Wednesday (8 March).

The Grange Academy won the Bedfordshire Police Student Challenge Award 2018, after judges praised their ‘powerful and emotional’ advert, saying “…[the pupils] composed an informative script which was delivered in a moving and very memorable way.”

Philippa Coles, English lead from The Grange Academy said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to have won. We competed against a number of schools and to win was an incredible boost to the confidence and self-esteem of our pupils. The advert they produced was amazing and I thought it showed a real emotional depth. The whole school is really proud them.”

The school was presented by Chief Constable Jon Boutcher and PCC Holloway, along with three other winning schools.

PCC Holloway said: “I was absolutely delighted to fund this timely and quite exceptional project. Across policing we are experiencing an unprecedented period in terms of a rise in young people carrying knives. The tragedy is that so many of them do so because they believe it gives a measure of protection from others who are similarly armed. The young people involved in the radio project heard loudly and clearly that almost half the serious knife crimes, for which data is available in the Metropolitan Police area, were committed using just such knives against them.

“I’m a former broadcaster and radio presenter, so I’m in a position to know just how professional and impactful the ads produced for this competition genuinely are. I made sure I heard them for the first time at the presentation event and was beyond impressed.

“The winning ad will now be broadcast in this county as a genuine radio advertisement and I have had interest already from the Mayor’s office in London in hearing about it and this whole competition. It’s been so outstandingly successful that I intend to run something similar every year from now on, while I’m in this role."

Chief Constable Boutcher added: “Every time a knife is used, there is potential for two lives to be changed forever – both that of the victim and the person who is carrying the knife. Working with young people on projects like this is essential, and the messages in each of the winning adverts were incredibly powerful. I’d like to congratulate all four of the winners, but also praise all of the schools and the pupils who took part in the workshops for their enthusiasm towards the project.”

The radio adverts were judged by a panel consisting of police officers, industry experts, young people and Channitta Lendore, the sister of murdered Isaac Stone who was stabbed to death in Bedford in 2014.

As well as being on the judging panel, Channitta attended the awards ceremony with her brother Tyrone and praised the work of the schools. She said: “Listening to what the pupils did was amazing. They have done really well and I hope they will make a big impact. I want to encourage them to spread their messages about knife crime to as many people as they can, as it might end up saving someone’s life.”

Denbigh High School won the People’s Most Listened To Award. The adverts by the 15 initial finalists were uploaded to YouTube so they could be viewed by friends, families and fellow students. Almost 3,000 people listened to Denbigh High School’s advert in the last few weeks.

Biddenham International School were winners of the Creativity Award, with the judges remarking how impressed they were with the school’s ‘Don’t take a stab in the dark’ tagline which featured in the advert.

A group of students from Bedford College were also presented with an award for their radio advert, with judges praising the student’s clear understanding of the impact of knife crime, saying; “the students delivered a strong message including  using the phrase ‘Don’t cut a hole in your life’ which was very impactful.”
                                    
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2.6 million pounds worth of bids submitted to PCC's Grant Fund
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has received applications for the 2018/19 Grant Fund totalling over £2.6 million worth of bids to help victims and reduce crime in Bedfordshire.

The application process for the Grant Fund was officially launched at the start of the year (Wednesday 3 January) and closed on Monday 19 February resulting in 76 applications having been received.

“For the second year running I have around twice the amount of grants’ applications as available funds. On the positive side this means that more people than ever before are aware of the possibility of grant funding for projects from the Commissioner’s Fund. I will see every single application myself and then there will be a moderation process to score the projects followed by grants panels for all of the higher value applications,” said Commissioner Holloway.

For the first time, Commissioning Surgeries were introduced during the application window, which allowed 22 representatives, from organisations wishing to make bids, to speak with the PCC’s commissioning team to find out more about the process and how best to apply for funding.

The PCC’s Grant Fund is created by combining a grant from the Ministry of Justice and funding from the Bedfordshire Police Force budget producing a flexible and accessible grant opportunity aimed at promoting innovative and collaborative working across Bedfordshire.

“I've introduced two cross-cutting themes this year which each and every project must demonstrate - ways in which they will help to reduce the demand on Bedfordshire Police and ways in which they will build confidence in the Force, both to support my Police and Crime Plan and ease the strain on a notoriously thinly stretched blue line.

“I’m also extremely keen to support projects which offer young children better life chances and which help to turn slightly older young people away from gangs and a life of crime. These are priorities for me along with protecting families against domestic violence and other abuse and providing them with a safe haven and support to move forward to build whole and happy lives,” added the PCC.

The process is still ongoing with the Commissioning team currently assessing bids whereby 24 of the 76 applicants will then be invited next month (12 – 26 March) to present to a panel of experts from across Bedfordshire who will then decide if any of the £1.6 million of grant funding will be allocated to them.

“It’s hugely important to me that this is seen as a fair, open and transparent process and I have around 24 hours of grants’ panels ahead of me! There will be representation from black, minority, ethnic groups, victims, young people, both genders and transgender panel members as well as those from the Police and Crime Panel who hold me to account, to hear applications along with the Bedfordshire Victims Partnership. This isn’t about tokenism it’s about making sure that as wide a range of views as possible is available to help guide me to spend public money in the wisest ways possible,” said the Commissioner.
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