Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway has launched her new Police and Crime Plan for the county aiming to address public concerns over Community Policing and to rebuild confidence in Bedfordshire Police.
The number one priority in the Plan is to make policing more visible in communities with seven Community Policing Hubs, positioned in areas where the public can see the difference. “For example, the Force is now finalising arrangements for a Hub based right on Bedford High Street, in the centre of the Night Time Economy’s pubbing and clubbing area but also seen by shoppers and workers in the town by day,” said Kathryn Holloway.
“As I promised during my election campaign, Bedfordshire Police is intending to position other hubs in areas where police stations have disappeared but fire stations remain, like Ampthill, and negotiations are at an advanced stage with the Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service over sharing facilities with both the senior team there and the Fire Brigades’ Union being incredibly positive and helpful. I think we all appreciate that where more than one blue light service is based at one station it makes its future - and that of jobs there - more secure and, from the public’s viewpoint, it makes best use of buildings they are already paying for,” said Commissioner Holloway.
“Clearly the main towns and areas of demand like Luton, Dunstable, Houghton Regis and Leighton Buzzard all need Hubs too and the North of the county needs one, potentially at Biggleswade or, with the agreement of the Fire Service, sharing in Shefford,” she said.
Commissioner Holloway pointed to the need to rebuild confidence in the Force, which she believes has been eroded over funding arguments. “The public heard nothing but problems over funding for the past few years and that Bedfordshire Police is overstretched. Sadly they came to believe the Force couldn’t do the job properly. There’s no doubt Bedfordshire isn’t fully funded for the urban challenges it faces, particularly in the Luton area, but that doesn’t mean there are not areas of absolute excellence that I’m finding and that the public need to hear about. For example, Bedfordshire has gone from 41st in the country out of 43 for improvements in tackling burglary to the number one slot and the Operation Fidelity programme for tackling persistent burglars through daily disruption and over every minor infraction of the law, plus the Cybercrime Hub, dealing with online crime, are considered such examples of best practice that they’re attracting other Forces to come to Bedfordshire to see how it’s done. I need the public to know they have a Force to be proud of,” she said.
“Also, when things go wrong, as sadly they will from time to time in an area like policing, I need to explain the background as fully as I can within the law and the constraints of investigations like those of the independent watchdog on policing, the IPCC, so communities don’t leap to the wrong conclusions. Whatever the constraints at the time, I will stand by my promise not to preside over any whitewash and present the facts when able to do so,” said Commissioner Holloway.
The priorities of the Police and Crime Plan for Bedfordshire were first presented to the Police and Crime Panel of local councillors and an independent representative, at its meeting with the PCC last week (Thursday June 16) and went live this week on the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s website www.bedspcc.org.
The Plan priorities are:-
· A return of more visible policing across the county
· To rebuild public confidence in Bedfordshire Police
· To ensure police are there when needed most after 999 calls
· Putting victims at the centre of the way Bedfordshire police and prosecute
· A fair deal on policing whether you live in the country or town
· Protecting the police to protect the public
· Genuinely being a Commissioner for all communities
· Working with partners to break the cycle of crime
Mrs Holloway has embarked on Project Boost the Frontline to release as many officers as possible from desk duties and to help those on restricted duties or long-term sickness back to full working, aiming to boost morale and invest in occupational health facilities, so more officers are available for 999 response duties.
She launched a new Rural Crime Strategy this month with the help of the National Farmers Union in a rural crime intelligence network of contacts for Bedfordshire Police, which has also now appointed a dedicated Rural Crime Officer to work with the Force, Parish Councils and country communities.
A research team is looking at the prospects for reducing single crewing –where police usually go out to answer 999 calls on their own without knowing what dangers may lie behind each door. “This has been cited to me as a real reason why officers leave the police as they feel so exposed. We are looking at evidence that, even with our relatively small frontline compared to our neighbours, the teams who achieve the most in policing terms are the ones where two officers are in a vehicle to back one another up,” she said.
Mrs Holloway is starting a series of meetings to encourage diverse communities in the county to become more engaged in policing. “We need every community to be represented in our recruitment – and have three separate recruitment drives this year. Not only that but our diverse communities are less well represented among Special Constables and those who are working with the Force on community schemes like Neighbourhood Watch, Streetwatch and the Speedwatch programme, which all create greater mutual confidence in policing and help keep neighbourhoods safer,” she said. She will be holding a public meeting in Luton, between 2pm and 4pm on Saturday July 9 at Berry Hill Conservative Club, Bury Park, accompanied by Deputy Chief Constable Mark Collins, Superintendent for the South of the county Supt. Sharn Basra, recruitment officers for both full-time constables and Specials and advisors on free home security improvements from the Bedfordshire Police Partnership Trust.
The Commissioner is also committing to multi-agency working with local authorities to identify offenders by working together since the small minority who represent the greatest challenge for policing are often the same group challenging these other agencies. “I have had great encouragement from the Central Bedfordshire Council leader, James Jamieson, to work together with police wherever we can to reduce crime and the Chief Constable, Jon Boutcher, and Luton CEO Trevor Holden have visited Manchester to see how their police and council teams work with others across the public sector to deal with crime. This sort of joint working, cutting across the political divide, is the direction of travel policing needs,” said Commissioner Holloway.
“Bedfordshire Police has its own strategic Plan – the Force Control Strategy – around the most serious crimes like Counter Terror, Serious Organised Crime like Human Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation and they have my full backing in dealing with these but I’m the public’s voice on policing and my Plan has to join these priorities to make sure that voice is heard,” she said.
The full Police and Crime Plan can be reviewed on the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner’s website.
If you have any feedback on the Plan, please email firstname.lastname@example.org