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PCC chairs Annual Parish Council Conference to discuss policing in Bedfordshire
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, welcomed the county’s Parish and Town Councillors last week (20 September) to have an "honest and open" discussion on policing in Bedfordshire at her second Annual Parish Conference. 

Around 40 councillors attended the meeting co-chaired by the Chief Constable, Jon Boutcher, along with other senior members of the Force to discuss issues such as rural crime, community policing and funding. 

“I promised the parishes that I would meet with them every year by holding a Parish Councils’ Conference and I’m delighted at the response to this second event. We asked every council for their top three priorities and they came back loud and clear - speeding, nuisance motorbikes and a need for visible policing. That’s exactly what the Force is trying to provide as far as possible, despite the limits on our officer numbers,” said Commissioner Holloway.

“To address these top concerns, we assembled a team for the conference to tell parish councillors about the new community teams in the North, South and centre of the county and how they’ll reach out to them and problem solve.

“The councillors heard that the Chief Constable and I want every community officer to know every vulnerable person on their patch, every organised crime group and, at the other extreme, their councillors. They need to visit every school, old people’s home, place of care for children and bail hostel on their territory. That sounds like good old-fashioned policing to me!” said the PCC.

Senior officers delivered updates on the latest successes in tackling crime. Chief Inspector Mark Farrant, who heads up the Rural Crime Team, explained that working alongside local authorities to arrange planned days of action had resulted in 62 vehicles being seized, 11 arrests and 56 speeding offences in the first 6 months of the unit. 

There were assurances from Sergeant Samantha Hunt, who leads Operation Meteor, the Force’s response to the biking issue, that police are doing everything they can to catch those causing a nuisance by biking in Bedfordshire illegally. In the last month, a further six motorbikes have been seized. She described how key local petrol stations are no longer selling fuel to riders suspected to be on stolen bikes, or using bikes for anti-social behaviour, after arrangements with police. 

The Chief Constable was keen to hear from the councillors and understand the issues they are facing in their parishes and wards. 

“It was great to meet again with the councillors that represent our county. They brought their concerns to us and we updated them on what we are doing to improve visibility, as well as tackle rural crime and anti-social behaviour, both of which are really impacting on our communities,” said Chief Constable Jon Boutcher.  

“We face a lot of challenges in Bedfordshire. We are a small Force with a lot of complex crimes to deal with and we are making progress, but we can’t do the job properly without an increase in funding. I’m not after a money tree, I’m after a leaf,” added the Chief. 

"This conference really shows how my team and the Force are making our money go as far as possible to improve policing in rural areas in our county where the National Farmers Union told us the cost of crime has gone down by £200,000 on last year,” said the PCC.

The second annual Parish Conference was held at the Chicksands Headquarters of Central Bedfordshire Council and all parishes in Bedfordshire were invited to send a representative.