Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner -  
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PCC sends 'most important document Bedfordshire Police has ever sent to Government' in bid to secure Force's future in November Spending Review
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway has submitted an analysis of the gap between resources and unprecedented demand on her Force this year to the Policing Minister, Nick Hurd, ahead of next month’s Spending Review which she believes may settle the future of Bedfordshire Police.

As a result, Commissioner Holloway called the Bedfordshire Police Demand and Finance Report 2017 “arguably the most important document which the Force has ever sent to Government.”

“It certainly is among the most detailed ever to be sent to a Policing Minister from the Force as it absolutely clearly provides evidence for the £10 million Bedfordshire Police now needs each year to meet a level of demand for its services that has never been seen before,” said the Commissioner.

“Even though I’ve supported the Chief Constable, Jon Boutcher, in recruiting 96 new Police Constables in the financial year to April 1 and 100 more this year, the Force still needs 300 frontline officers - at a cost of £8 million - and 80 detectives to meet the demand for investigations - costing a further £2 million. I’ve called on the Minister to treat Bedfordshire Police as a special case for scrutiny given its unique situation as he considers funding reports from all the 43 police forces of England and Wales ahead of next month’s Spending Review. The Chancellor will announce the policing settlement as we move ahead into 2018/19 and I firmly believe that if this shortfall is not met, Bedfordshire Police’s future is unsustainable,” she said.

The Commissioner says the extra investment is necessary since both the Policing Minister Nick Hurd - in an address to all PCCs - and, last week, the head of MI5, have confirmed the demand in policing which has built over the last year represents not just a 'spike' but a 'sustained surge'. For Bedfordshire Police and its residents this has meant:-

* an 11% increase in 999 calls this year

* a 16% increase in 101 calls

* a 24% increase in calls requiring an immediate response by officers (in the 12 month period from May 2016 - May 2017)

In common with the rest of England and Wales, crime levels have also risen in Bedfordshire with a 12.2% increase in overall recorded crime in the county between April and August 2017.

“Bedfordshire Police is a force achieving miracles on its over-stretched budget, which is one of the lowest in all of British policing despite very high levels of Serious Organised Crime demand and that caused by gangs and criminals seeking to operate drug trafficking along so-called county lines out of London, our near neighbour. While it’s true to say all of policing is reporting a surge in demand, Bedfordshire is different because it not only guards the back door to the capital, and UK plc, but started way behind other forces because of its historically low funding which no government of any political shade has ever tackled properly. It is fair to say its future is on the line,” said the PCC.

The Policing Minister is receiving demand and funding reports from each police force after halting a review of the old national police funding formula following the Manchester and London terror attacks and after evidence was presented to him of a general shortfall in funding, compared to demand on policing, in a joint submission from the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and National Police Chiefs Council at the beginning of September 2017.

“Bedfordshire started so far back in the race, compared with other forces, you could claim it couldn’t see the grid. We are now seeing other forces who say they're experiencing what this county’s police have had to deal with for years, with a void between the size of the Frontline and the demands being made on those officers. What makes it worse is that nobody could conceivably have predicted the rise in demand for the Force’s services like that experienced this year,” said Commissioner Holloway.

“I can prove that when Bedfordshire Police is given the money and staff it produces exemplary policing. For example, the Force leads the Eastern Region’s Regional Organised Crime Unit and Counter Terror Intelligence Unit for seven forces and has turned them both around to take and hold the lead position for disruptions and successful prosecutions. My message to Government is that I need it to give Bedfordshire the funds and staff to do the same in Community Policing and 999 and 101 Response services and the Chief Constable and I will finish the job. This is now for the Home Office to settle with the Treasury,” said the PCC.

The Commissioner insisted that a merger between Bedfordshire Police and the surrounding forces of Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire would not solve the problem as the extra investment would be necessary in any case.

“Understandably, the taxpayers of our neighbouring counties are not about to agree to the policing they pay for being sucked into Bedfordshire, as a county, and most particularly the Luton area, which the Demand and Finance Report has proved absorbs some 40% of all Bedfordshire Police’s total policing resources,” she said.

The Spending Review, which will announce the funding settlement for policing in 2018/19 will take place on November 22.