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Policing Minister tells Bedfordshire Police they are 'a shining example' in recruitment of minorities at national conference and makes commitment to addressing the funding of the Force
Policing Minister Nick Hurd brought good news to Bedfordshire while attending a national conference on diversity in policing (7 June 2018) as he congratulated Bedfordshire Police on the “shining example” they represent to policing as a whole through recent exemplary recruitment across minority communities - and also declared his intention to review the funding of the notoriously stretched force as early as next year and in the approaching five year review of police funding nationwide.

Mr Hurd came to this year’s conference, which was held at Bedfordshire Police HQ in Kempston, after hearing about the work taking place in the county to encourage a more diverse workforce, to be more reflective of the county’s communities. He said the progress at Bedfordshire Police showed increased diversity in policing is possible “if there is a will” and congratulated PCC Kathryn Holloway and Chief Constable Jon Boutcher on their work together to drive forward this improvement.

“It’s absolutely clear that Nick Hurd fully understands the very significant progress made by Bedfordshire Police in this area and he, quite rightly, points to the fact that no force should ignore the need to recruit across diversity even where, unlike ourselves, there are no significant black, asian or other minority populations in the force area. This is a wider issue than that, to make sure that we recruit the best of the best from the widest pool and that’s precisely what we are doing here in this county,” said Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway.

“Everyone who knows me knows that I’m interested in being an effective PCC, not just being PC - politically correct. We need to have access to recruits across every race and culture and who bring their understanding of faiths, communities and multiple languages to policing,” she said.

In 2016, when Commissioner Holloway was elected and joined Bedfordshire Police, the Force was the third worst in the country in terms of diversity and representation. Approximately 5.5% of the workforce was from diverse backgrounds although 23.5% of Bedfordshire's communities came from these. Since December 2016, the Force has recruited 206 new police officers with up to a third of the intakes from BME backgrounds and is now the third most representative force in the country, following the Metropolitan Police and Greater Manchester Police. Some 11% of Bedfordshire Police’s workforce is now from BME communities.

BME Network Chair, Inspector Mike Chand, said: “It was a pleasure to welcome Mr Hurd to the annual conference, and we’re pleased he has recognised the work that’s happened at Bedfordshire Police to improve our diversity. We know we need to be more reflective of our communities, and we’re committed to recruiting the very best people to join the force.”

After his address on diversity in policing, the Minister moved to discuss funding of Bedfordshire Police, which receives among the lowest Government grants in policing as well as being among the lowest in terms of council tax receipts. 

He told the audience of his commitment to revising the funding of the Force. Mr Hurd first made reference to an enhanced cash package for policing as a whole in the 2019-20 Spending Review, in line with a speech from the new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, at the recent Police Federation Conference in Birmingham on 23 May 2018. In answer to questions, he also gave a commitment to address Bedfordshire Police’s historically unfair share of the national funding pot, in view of its many very challenging and complex crime issues - including terrorism, serious organised crime and gang, gun and knife crime. The Minister suggested that the Home Office is fully aware of the need to build special assistance for the Force into its current funding review which is to address the policing budget for the approaching five-year period.

“It’s obviously incredibly welcome that the Minister appears to fully recognise the need to finally and comprehensively review the funding of Bedfordshire Police. He referred twice to the five year spending review on which work has recently started, as the main vehicle for this, but appeared to commit to particular assistance before then, as early as next year,” said the Commissioner.

“He joked with the audience that he couldn’t ignore the issue as he can’t escape the texts and messages he receives from me but, on a more serious note, he congratulated both me and the Chief Constable in terms of the way we have made the case for Bedfordshire Police funding, so far,” said Commissioner Holloway.