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HMICFRS Report rates Bedfordshire Police as 'good' for Legitimacy
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has welcomed the latest HMICFRS PEEL Police Legitimacy 2017 Report on Bedfordshire Police stating that the Force has a ‘good understanding of the importance of treating the people it serves with fairness and respect’ and has made ‘good progress in listening to its workforce’.

The annual inspection of force legitimacy by the police watchdog (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services - HMICFRS) found that the Force was ‘good’ overall for legitimacy and ‘promotes an ethical approach to decision making, with its leaders acting as positive role models’.

“Legitimacy is the test of how well a police force treats its officers and staff and the public and, as a result, it is arguably the most important measure of all to a PCC who represents the public’s voice on policing. I’m absolutely delighted that the very significant work delivered by Bedfordshire Police around Legitimacy in the past year has been fully recognised and that the Force has retained – and built upon – the ‘good’ grading it received in 2016,” said Commissioner Holloway.

The report assesses Bedfordshire Police’s use of stop and search powers, how the workforce and public are treated, the Force behaving ethically and fairly as well as leadership. HMICFRS praised the Force for having delivered unconscious bias training to all officers and staff, with the inspectors finding that of the officers and police staff they spoke to ‘they demonstrated a good understanding of unconscious bias, how to recognise it and how to seek to overcome their own bias to ensure they are dealing fairly with the public’.

“A most significant part of the work to really embed the type of culture and approach the Chief Constable and I want to see as standard at Bedfordshire Police has been the Better4Beds events delivered to all officers and staff in the Force. Every officers heard first hand from victims, including Sammy Woodhouse - a Rotherham child sexual exploitation victim - about what happened to her and how officers should interpret a similar situation to be professionally curious and uncover abuse, as well as from local victims of historic child sexual abuse, domestic violence and rape,” added the PCC.

HMICFRS also noted the development of an ‘effective’ mentoring scheme which now includes 40 trained mentors and felt that the Force ‘has a better understanding of the benefits of improving workforce wellbeing than it had last year’ with a particular focus on mental health.

“The Force Executive has been supported by me in its duty of care to its officers. Bedfordshire Police’s leadership team and I enjoy exceptionally strong relationships with the staff associations. The Force takes part in the ‘100 Little Things’ project to make small but meaningful differences to the workplace, on the recommendation of officers and staff, to improve their working life. Above all, we work together to try to drive down assaults on frontline officers and provide support for them when these occur, with the Chief Constable and his top team contacting such officers as soon as possible afterwards and the work that I have undertaken, with the help of the Police Federation, to push for higher levels of charges and tougher penalties for those who assault officers who put themselves selflessly between the public and violent criminality,” said the Commissioner.

Commenting on the report, HM Inspector of the Constabulary Matt Parr said, “I am pleased to report that Bedfordshire Police is judged to be good at how legitimately it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Although this is the same as last year’s grade, there has been further improvement. The force is committed to ensuring its officers and staff treat the public with fairness and respect. Coercive powers such as stop and search are carefully monitored, for example.

“The force promotes an ethical culture and an ethical approach to decision making, with its leaders acting as positive role models. The force makes it easy for people to make a complaint, including offering additional support to those who need it. But the force does need to ensure that it complies with the national vetting policy by December 2018.

“The force is good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect. Leaders encourage feedback and challenge from their staff, mistakes are generally admitted and feedback provided. It takes care to look after the wellbeing of officers and staff. I would, however, like to see more done to help supervisors support their staff.”