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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.

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.

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.
PCC's new victims' service exceeds the number helped in the whole of last year in under two months
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, is celebrating with the team working in the new service she established with the Force to support victims of crime - the Signpost Hub - after providing help to more victims than were said to have been assisted by its predecessor over the whole of the last year, in just two months.

The Signpost Hub - a call centre manned by specialist Victim Care coordinators - has helped some 919 victims since it launched on April 1st. This compares with 905 victims said to have been assisted by its predecessor over the previous 12 months.

“The success of the Signpost Hub so far has been quite outstanding and completely vindicates the decision to bring the service to help support those affected by crime in-house. In under two months, the Hub’s specialist advisors have already assisted more than 100% of the total number of all those seen by the previous out-sourced service which is a mark of their incredible commitment and, most importantly, that victims of crime trust them and that we have the right people in the right jobs,” said Commissioner Holloway.

“Signpost is completely confidential. People are not speaking to an officer to give evidence but to an expert who can lead them to precisely the type of help and support they themselves consider that they need. They don't even need to have reported the crime to police as I have a legal duty to provide victim services in these circumstances too,” she added.

The Signpost Hub, which aims to make contact within 24 hours of a crime being reported, was set up to improve access to support for those affected by crime, including those who were not themselves the victim but who were affected by the crime such as children, partners and parents.

The Signpost service consists of a call centre of specialist helpers, based at Bedfordshire Police HQ, backed by a website - listing all the key support services available in the county. The Signpost Victim Care Coordinators aim to give first class support and care to both victims themselves and those connected to them who are also affected by the crime. It is a one-stop-shop for the information those affected by crime need to know, offering access to available help, support, advice and guidance with referrals to specialist support organisations. Victims of crime are also able to keep up-to-date with the progress of their case through Signpost. The team is available from 8am-8pm Monday-Friday and from 9am-5pm on Saturdays. The team can be reached by calling the freephone number 0800 0282 887.

The free and confidential service also deals with all Restorative Justice (RJ) cases which bring 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 view of what the crime meant to them and to find a positive way forward. Since launching, the team has progressed 14 cases and is working with victims and offenders to arrange a further 28.

“Bedfordshire Police is determined to be a trailblazer in the field of Restorative Justice, helping victims to come to terms with what has happened to them by confronting the person responsible for the crime. Signpost is now taking this commitment forward and the number of cases it has arranged in such a short period is also testament to the fact that we take RJ incredibly seriously with all its potential benefits, both for the victim and in dissuading the criminal from reoffending,” said PCC Holloway.

“The Hub is proving that it’s not only an asset to victims but to police officers too. Representatives of organisations supporting particular types of victims - such as those who’ve experienced Domestic Abuse or sexual exploitation - hot desk from the Signpost Hub at Force HQ which means officers dealing with cases involving such victims can access advice themselves when handling these complex situations to make sure they do so appropriately,” added the Commissioner. 

Kevin Vanterpool, Head of Victim Care at the Signpost Hub, said: “Unfortunately we will never be in a position where we live in a victimless society, which is why it's so important to the team that we get this right and help every victim we possibly can in Bedfordshire. I am really pleased, in the first two months since we launched, that we have been able to support so many people and help them through their journey. 

“We will continue to work hard to ensure every victim, irrespective of whether or not they wish to report the crime, is helped by the Signpost Hub”, he added.

For further information visit the Signpost Hub website - or contact 0800 0282 887.
Chief Constable and PCC congratulate force as Bedfordshire Police's improvements are recognised in landmark decision by police watchdog
Bedfordshire’s Chief Constable, Jon Boutcher, and Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway are today thanking every officer and member of staff after the force passed a significant milestone for improvement in the eyes of the police watchdog.

In a key meeting at the London headquarters of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies & Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) yesterday (Thursday, 24 May), a decision was taken to remove Bedfordshire Police from the group of forces which are considered to present official ‘causes for concern’ and who are required to meet regularly with officials and representatives from the inspectorate, the Home Office, College of Policing, National Police Chiefs’ Council and Association of Police and Crime Commissioners to explain their actions to address the issues identified by inspectors (HMIs).

Mr Boutcher said: “For us to be removed from these measures is fabulous news and is recognition of the improvements which have been made across the force by everyone. It also shows that we have sustainable long term plans in place to make sure this force goes from strength to strength.

“I’m hugely grateful for the support of PCC Kathryn Holloway and for the continued hard work and determination of every member of Bedfordshire Police.”

Chief Constable Boutcher updated the meeting of the inspectorate’s Policing Performance Oversight Group (PPOG) on Bedfordshire Police’s progress, as promised, in rolling out some eight Community Hubs of police officers in towns across the county, with an additional Hub at Luton Airport on top of the seven pledged to HMICFRS and partners such as MPs and local authorities. He explained the force had also been ahead of schedule in identifying and recruiting officers for these roles by November 2017 rather than the deadline of April 2018.

“There is no doubt that both public confidence and the morale of Bedfordshire’s police officers and staff are all impacted by critical reports from the police watchdog. This is doubly true if a force is selected to be one of the comparatively small group which is subject to the ongoing scrutiny of its Policing Performance Oversight Group (PPOG). This is the reason why this decision is of such enormous importance to everyone in the force and to me, as the public’s voice on policing,” said Commissioner Holloway.

“What was also particularly important to me was that so many of the aspects of the progress shown by Bedfordshire Police were singled out for praise at the meeting with special emphasis on the speed with which improvements have been made since the force received a uniquely critical grading just over a year ago, in March 2016. These included problem-solving in communities, the work being done to drive home the culture the Chief Constable and I require to protect the most vulnerable children - often in the care of local authorities - who may frequently abscond and that being done both within the Force Control Room and with partners, like local councils, in this area.

“I pointed, in the meeting, to the outstanding progress made in driving down the length of time over which such vulnerable young people are missing, which was once over 90 hours on average, to less than eight today. I also drew attention to the work being done with councils to encourage so-called ‘return interviews’ with these individuals to try to get to the bottom of why they absconded in the first place, with 87% being given this opportunity in the last quarter - a rise of some 50%. A lot of forces talk about joint working and the need to work in partnership to improve policing but this is what it looks like in reality,” she said.

The decision to remove the force from the watchdog’s enhanced scrutiny (from ‘Engage’ to ‘Scan’) was recommended by Bedfordshire Police’s Acting Inspector, HMI Matt Parr, who pointed in the meeting to the speed over which the Force had improved since receiving a grading of ‘inadequate' in its Effectiveness report in March 2016. The Chief Inspector, Sir Tom Winsor, said he was happy to accept the recommendation, given the “positive trajectory” of the force. Sir Tom also encouraged his organisation to follow Bedfordshire Police’s example in its national training event concerning protection of vulnerable young people by inviting Sammy Woodhouse, one of the whistle-blowers who exposed the Rochdale and Rotherham child abuse scandal, citing his visit to the force’s annual Better4Bedfordshire events to establish the ‘culture’ expected of officers and staff saying how impressed he had been. “It was not just what she said but how she said it,” said Sir Tom.

Representing the National Police Chiefs’ Council, Northamptonshire Chief Constable, Simon Edens, said how impressed he was by the approach to problem solving in communities, exemplified by one of Bedfordshire’s Police Now graduate recruits who had approached the national management of a discount chainstore to negotiate more secure storage and oversight of knives on sale after the discovery of knife packaging carrying its brand in Luton town centre. His comments were also endorsed by the College of Policing.

Kent PCC, Matthew Scott, the portfolio lead for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners on policing standards praised the work of Bedfordshire’s PCC in convening partners to produce genuine improvements in policing and community safety in the county.

He said: “All the officers and staff in Bedfordshire should be immensely proud of their force’s vast improvement over the last two years. They have been well supported by their PCC who has shown leadership and determination in helping deliver change and ensuring accountability. Kathryn has also shown exactly why we need great PCCs like her who will use their powers to bring partners to the table to work together and keep residents safe.”
PCC invites nominations for awards ceremony to commemorate 100 years of women making Bedfordshire safer and of having the vote
To commemorate the century since women achieved the right to vote, Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, is holding an awards ceremony celebrating women who make Bedfordshire safer.

The afternoon celebration will take place on Monday 23 July and will consist of awards in 11 categories including a Survivor’s Award and a Life Time Achievement Award (full list detailed below). The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner is welcoming nominations from as many people as possible and is encouraging those who feel they know someone worthy of the award to kindly complete the short form and return it by Friday 15 June to

Nomination Form for 100 Years Event

Commissioner Holloway said: “I wanted to celebrate 100 years of votes for women - after all I wouldn’t be here as PCC without them - but I wanted to do it in a meaningful way for communities and policing in Bedfordshire and to create a legacy for the future. The event will award women working not only in policing but in health, education and community groups and those helping to break the cycle of crime for offenders too. They will, quite literally, be the 100 women who make Bedfordshire safer and I need as many people as possible to get involved in voting for them via our website.

“But I also wanted to create something which can help strengthen relationships between police and communities into the future. Those women who attend on the day - and there will be 150 guests invited - will hopefully form a forum which we can consult over issues which affect them and their families and friends when it comes to crime and community safety moving forward.”

The nominations for the Women who make Bedfordshire safer awards are as follows:

Voluntary Award
An individual who has volunteered their time in the support of others.

Young Persons Educational Award
An individual or team that has worked with young people to educate/support them to ensure their safeguarding.

Health Carers Award
An individual who is dedicated to looking after those with health care needs.

Offender Rehabilitation Services Award
An individual or group who have assisted in the rehabilitation of an offender.

Community Group Award
A team from the community that has given a particular focus to safeguarding

Blue Light Awards
A team within the blue light arena that has particularly supported safeguarding.

Victims Services Award
An individual or team that has provided excellent service to victims.

Bedfordshire Police Officer or Staff Award
An individual officer or Police staff member who has gone above and beyond the call of duty for safeguarding.

Life Time Achievement Award
An individual who has a long history of supporting people in the safeguarding arena.

Survivors Award
An individual who has used personal experience to help others.

Woman of the Year Award
Giving recognition to a woman who has inspired and influenced other women.

“To be absolutely frank, over the past two years, I have learned of so many women who are right at the heart of keeping this county safe and yet too few of them are fielded by their organisations to represent them or make formal presentations to me as PCC. I need to tap into all that female experience and talent for the benefit not only of Bedfordshire Police but for all our communities across the county as well,” added the PCC.

The closing date for nominations is Friday 15 June 2018. To make a nomination, please visit our website - - and download a nomination form. Please return all completed forms via email to: For more information or to enquire about sponsoring/ attending the event, please email or call the office on 01234 842064.
OPCC invites nominations for awards ceremony to commemorate 100 years since women achieved the right to vote and celebrate women who make Bedfordshire safer
To commemorate 100 years since women achieved the right to vote in the United Kingdom, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Bedfordshire will be welcoming women from across the county for an afternoon celebration in Bedford. The event will take place on Tuesday 17th July and will be an awards ceremony, celebrating women throughout Bedfordshire who have or are making it a safer county whilst creating a sustained future for this area of work.

We are welcoming nominations for women in the following categories and would encourage those who feel they know someone worthy of the award to kindly complete and return the nomination form to:

Voluntary Award
An individual who has volunteered their time in the support of others.
Young Persons Educational Award
An individual or team that has worked with young people to educate/support them to ensure their safeguarding.
Health Carers Award     
An individual who is dedicated to looking after those with health care needs.
Offender Rehabilitation Services Award
An individual or group who have assisted in the rehabilitation of an offender.
Community Group Award
A team from the community that has given a particular focus to safeguarding
Blue Light Awards
A team within the blue light arena that has particularly supported safeguarding.
Victims Services Award
An individual or team that has provided excellent service to victims.
Bedfordshire Police Officer or Staff Award
An individual officer or Police staff member who has gone above and beyond the call of duty for safeguarding.
Life Time Achievement Award
An individual who has a long history of supporting people in the safeguarding arena.
Survivors Award
An individual who has used personal experience to help others.
Woman of the Year Award
Giving recognition to a woman who has inspired and influenced other women.

Nomination Form for 100 Years Event

The closing date for nominations is Friday 8 June 2018. For more information or to enquire about sponsoring/ attending the event, please email or call the office on 01234 842064.

PCC launches report detailing achievements in her second year in office as she pledges to fight rise in knife and gang crime
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, today launched a report to set out for the public the achievements she has made with the Force over the past year - and pledged to concentrate on the fight to reduce knife and gang violence, moving forward.

report was launched today (3 May), before an audience of councillors, community members and the PCC's grant-funded organisations at the University of Bedfordshire’s Bedford complex.

“As the public’s voice on policing, I consider it's necessary for me to update the public every single year on what I have been doing, working shoulder to shoulder with Bedfordshire Police and the Chief Constable, Jon Boutcher, to deliver improvements in policing even within the constraints of our budget” said the PCC.

“In just one year, the Force has been found to be the most improved of all the 43 in England and Wales by the police watchdog, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, HMICFRS, after a particularly low grading twelve months ago, based on the year before that. Nobody can argue that this is not substantial progress and my team and I and, of course, everyone in the Force, is delighted that all the hard work seems to be paying dividends,” she said.

The Commissioner went on to detail some of the key elements of progress over the last year, which deliver on promises in her Police and Crime Plan:-

* The return of Community Policing with eight, rather than the planned seven, Neighbourhood Policing Teams as "Community Hubs" in towns countywide - with an extra team now added at Luton Airport

* The new Signpost Victims’ Hub call centre and website to provide an enhanced response to victims of crime and those also affected - such as parents, children and partners - with the Hub staffed by specialist Victim Care Coordinators at Police HQ on the free and confidential helpline - 0800 0282 887 - and the website listing support services in the county, with maps and a language translation service - at 

* Creation of the largest Rural Crime Team in the East of England - joined by 4 more PCSOs this year - against a fall in the value of rural thefts across Bedfordshire by £200,000, according to the National Farmers Union

* The opening of a new high profile Enquiries Office for Bedford, in Lime Street, off the High Street

* Police moving to share the Community Fire Station at Bury Park in Luton as a base and moving into fire stations in Ampthill, Leighton Buzzard and Barker’s Lane, Bedford, as planned, with the Fire Service also sharing Bedfordshire Police’s Bury Park office, in the Bury Park Community Centre on Dunstable Road

* Ever closer working with the Fire Service including Fire agreeing to complete burglary prevention patrols for the police as part of their “red route” patrols to also combat arson

* £150,000 won from the NHS and £40,000 from the Home Office by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) for counselling therapies for victims of sex abuse and which have delivered anti-gangs and knife crime training for 1,070 teachers and other frontline workers and 2,000 pupils

The Commissioner was joined by Bedfordshire Police’s new Assistant Chief Constable, Jackie Sebire, who spoke of the improvements the Force had made in protecting the vulnerable, particularly in the area of young people who abscond and the Vulnerable Adults Risk Assessment Conference and Coordinator (VARAC), funded by the PCC, which helps police identify those adults most at risk of becoming repeat victims and builds an action plan around them with colleagues from the local authorities and other services.

“Whilst we continue to face a challenging policing environment, the Force has, through a number of initiatives such as VARAC, our cybercrime team and missing persons unit, made real differences to those most vulnerable within our communities,” said ACC Sebire.

“I have a tiny team at the OPCC who also oversee my Grants’ Commissioning process, distributing £1.1m of Ministry of Justice and Bedfordshire Police funds to organisations providing victims’ services and projects enhancing community safety, as well as supporting me in my role to hold the Force to account, in work with our Triforce partners - Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Police and their PCCs - and across the seven force Eastern Alliance.

That’s in addition to all the work in the past year to help Bedfordshire Police, such as bringing in a specialist team from the Home Office to establish the extent of knife and gang issues across the whole county and winning the funds to support training both for teachers and pupils around these issues in our schools. I’m proud of every single one of them,” said Commissioner Holloway.

The PCC devoted half of the launch event to providing evidence of the work being done by her office and Bedfordshire Police to fight the threat of growing knife crime, in line with a nationwide trend. This included a presentation by Crime Prevention Sergeant Ben Dimmock and Schools’ Officer, Richard Denton, including the extension of Junior Police Squads, working with 11-year-olds in nine schools, rather than three, in the previous year.

Sergeant Dimmock said: “When we first began, the children were not focussed, but now I feel really proud of them and how far they have come. They have had to learn a lot, but have all done really well." 

The Commissioner explained the knife crime toolkit provided to all schools in the county in the past year by Bedfordshire Police and regular meetings between Head Teachers and officers. She said that the fact that knife crime had risen by 4% over the past year in Bedfordshire, rather than more substantially, as elsewhere, was due at least in part to the extensive knife-related initiatives of the Force.

Commissioner Holloway also paid tribute to members of families who have lost loved ones to knife, gun and gang crime for working with her office to provide projects for children and young people to point to the dangers and consequences of becoming involved. She particularly welcomed Amanda Foster, who lost her husband Paul, and Duayne Brown, whose brother Delaney was killed, to the event. The pair are funded by the PCC to provide what she described as an “inspirational” youth club and recording studio project in Luton. 

“None of us can claim that there is not a knife and gang problem across the county as a whole and that we must act urgently to drive this out. Having helped to provide the evidence of the problem through the Home Office reviews, I don’t see it as appropriate to want to take the lead as some would suggest that politics is being brought into this, which would be a distraction when saving children’s lives is what matters,” said the PCC. 

I back the Force in hoping that Health will become the lead, as they have done successfully in Scotland and Manchester, as it can be far easier for health professionals to engage with difficult to reach young people than police officers. What is clear is that Bedfordshire Police and all its partners need to work together on this issue over the coming year,” she said, also thanking the Chief Officers of the local authorities, Health, Fire and the Youth Offending Service for their joint commitment to tackling the issue.

Commissioner Holloway's Two Years On Report
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 leads independent custody inspections working with volunteers in Bedfordshire and is the Regional ICVA lead for 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.
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.
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.
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.