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PCC meets with Sandy residents and councillors to discuss local policing issues
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, held her fifth public surgery in the county for the residents of Sandy to raise local policing issues with the Commissioner and senior officer Inspector Nick Masters from the Force.

The surgery, which was held last week (Monday 29 October) at the Town Council in Sandy, was attended by members of the public wishing to raise concerns about speeding, road safety, anti-social behaviour, criminal damage, theft from vehicles, burglaries and drugs. Ahead of the meeting, the Commissioner went out with a 999 Response officer, responding to emergencies in the area.

“Before I held the surgery with residents and met the council, as with all my visits to towns throughout the county, I went on ride-along again with one of our Response officers for the area. I was able to confirm to all I met that, while law abiding residents will not see members of our thinly stretched blue line regularly, this officer was typical in that he knew not only the addresses and surnames relating to every call made to him while I was out with him but even the names of all members of the household and even which of them holds a driving licence! Not only the Community Hub team serving Sandy and surrounding areas, which operates out of Biggleswade Police Station, but also the Response officers attending 999 calls and 101 appointments are very well informed about those on their patch who present issues in relation to crime and do all possible to contain the threat and protect the public.

“I also wanted to offer the residents of Sandy the chance to talk one to one about their policing and crime concerns as well as giving them the chance to pass on information to the senior Community Hub officer for their area. Interestingly, most residents wanted clarification of the strategic position in terms of the funding of Bedfordshire Police and the genuine limits this creates for me as PCC in setting the budget and recruiting extra officers. Some wanted to talk about issues such as lorries mounting pavements and speed reduction measures and I asked them to gather the evidence and let me set it before the Community Safety Partnership, chaired by the local authority but involving police, to see whether this could be addressed using our joint powers,” said the Commissioner.

Inspector Nick Masters, from Bedfordshire Police, said: “The Commissioner’s surgery provided a great opportunity for the public to raise any concerns around local policing and crime in their area. Understandably, we may not be able to respond immediately to every issue, but local people are our eyes and ears on the ground and by making sure crime of all levels is reported to police through the correct channels, we are able to build an intelligence picture which will could lead to action.”

Following the surgery, Commissioner Holloway was joined by members of the Town Council to discuss local policing for the area. The meeting, chaired by Mayor Michael Scott, allowed the nine councillors who attended to ask the Commissioner about local concerns, but also county-wide issues such as funding and county lines. Councillors also sought guidance from the Commissioner and Insp. Masters on crime prevention for the area and the importance of CCTV in the town.

“Sandy Town Council has a really sophisticated understanding of the constraints on Bedfordshire Police in terms of officer numbers and the need to judge each and every call coming into the Force Control Room against the severity and risk of matters happening at that very same second which might be life-threatening. Councillors were not only keen to hear what I have been doing to take the arguments very robustly to Government - including an emergency funding bid to deal with gang, gun and knife crime costs - for £4.571m which I will hear the result of this month (November), but to ask what they can do to support the Force and I over the wider issue of Government funding; as a result, they have agreed to petition the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, by writing to him before the next Policing Settlement this December as I believe the argument has been won with the Home Office but it is not a protected department for spending.

To mark the end of her second year in the role, Commissioner Holloway has been holding a serious of surgeries with the public around the county, with meetings having already taken place in Luton, Dunstable, Leighton Buzzard, Bedford and Sandy. The next public surgery is due to take place in Biggleswade on Tuesday 13 November. For a full breakdown of public meetings and information on how to book a session with the PCC, please visit the website - www.bedfordshire.pcc.police.uk/upcoming-engagements