The pair held the meeting, which was attended by representatives of communities throughout Luton, to announce the delivery of a new Community Policing ‘Hub” which will consist of two Inspectors, four Sergeants, fifteen Police Constables, 20 Police Community Support Officers together with the support of Special Constables with full policing powers, as part of a new high-visibility team to meet the Commissioner’s requirements in her recently-published Police and Crime Plan marking a renewed commitment to Community Policing by the Force. They also announced multiple operations making up a new push on burglary in Luton and the facts concerning the crime in the town.
“The public told me that more visible policing in their local communities was their number one priority and that’s why it’s mine too. You said, I listened, so did Bedfordshire Police and that’s why we’re here today with a genuinely good policing story for the town for a change,” Commissioner Holloway told the audience in Bury Park.
“I’m not going to hide behind funding or the thin blue line with excuses. It was not the right thing to do to reduce Community Policing and we’re putting that right now,” said DCC Collins.
“The new Community Hub will be in addition to the Community Crime Team, Community Cohesion officers and the 999 Response Team in Luton,” he said, confirming that the first officers will start patrols in the town in the next few weeks as new recruits come into service and that the extra deployment will build with a second set of recruits ten weeks later and from September to December as the full Hub contingent come into service.
Commissioner Holloway explained her commitment to ensuring the new Community Hub team will be based where the public can see them. “The way to demonstrate genuinely enhanced and more visible policing is to make sure the team is based in the main shopping and working areas of Luton. If they’re based in Luton Mall and Bury Park Shopping Centre, the public will see officers as they make their way to and from these bases which, in itself, will give real reassurance and make it easier for people to informally pass on information to tackle crime,” she said.
The pair also dealt with rumours over the level of burglaries in Luton with the facts concerning the crime.
“When I was standing for election for this role I heard the rumour time after time that there is a burglary every fifteen minutes in Luton but it’s completely untrue and talks the community into a greater state of fear and anxiety. Every burglary is horrific for the victim as your home is where you have every right to feel safe but the figures on burglary show huge progress in Luton although the Force will never be complacent,” said Commissioner Holloway.
DCC Collins confirmed there are 3 burglaries a day, on average, in the town and that the burglary rate overall has fallen by 36% in the past 5 years with house burglaries down by 17.5%.
He also announced a raft of measures to drive down burglary rates further, building over the summer into the autumn, when longer and darker evenings traditionally mean burglaries increase, with criminals taking advantage of the cover of darkness.
· Operation Fidelity to target habitual burglars by checking they are at home observing their curfews and not out committing crime, with dedicated patrols
· Operation Cocoon to offer burglary prevention advice to all neighbours in streets where there have been three burglaries which has so far protected 483 non-victim households with no further burglaries in these areas
· Operation Avicenna focussing on gang members responsible for burglary, vehicle crime and other offences in the South of the county
· Targeting of hot spots for burglary bringing households into the Beds Alert police scheme to deliver targeted intelligence on threat and home protection with particular action in Dudley Street, North Street, Wenlock Street, Stanley Street, Corncastle Road, Ashton Road, Arthur Street, Tavistock Street and Hibbert Street
· Roadshows and pop-up shops in Luton to give advice, especially at times of festivals and weddings when Asian families bring out their celebration jewellery
DCC Collins explained there is an average of 1 so-called Asian gold burglary a month in the town but police are focussing on those criminals known to target such jewellery and had arrested just such a gang who had travelled down from Birmingham.
Luton is also to be the subject of regular Op Salcoats activity by Bedfordshire Police’s volunteers, including Special Constables, this summer and autumn to focus on anti-social behaviour.
The meeting, at Beech Hill Conservative Club, was also addressed by Community Cohesion Insp. Hob Hoque who agreed the team would be targeting aggressive beggars in Bury Park, Insp. Mo Aziz who talked about the need for diversity in recruitment and the 30% of Black, Minority and Ethnic applicants who have applied to the latest Force recruitment programme and Head of the Special Constabulary, Wayne Humberstone also called for volunteers. As a result of the meeting, inquiries by 8 potential Specials and 2 volunteers were received.
Commissioner Holloway also explained the work the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner can do to pass on concerns in communities over an environment which encourages crime, to other partners. “I was asked by the President of Bury Park Mosque to visit Maple Road East where trees are overhanging the street, creating dark areas where drug-dealers can hide. There was also rubbish and fly-tipping in the street. The OPCC reported this to the Luton Community Safety Partnership and the trees are now on the programme to be cut back, the households have been leafleted and asked to report any suspicious behaviour, there are extra patrols and the fly-tipping is being cleared. All this shows that the police, my office and the local authority in Luton are determined to take action to cut crime and make communities safer,” she said.