Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner -  
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Battling PCC and Chief win 8 million pounds boost for Bedfordshire Police and thank 'Team Bedfordshire' for their support
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, and Chief Constable, Jon Boutcher, were today celebrating an £8m win for Bedfordshire Police to deliver more officers to the frontline and plug a hole in the budget from a national pensions shortfall.

The Policing Settlement for 2019-20 will bring £8m extra into the coffers of cash-strapped Bedfordshire Police and was made up of £1.3m in extra core grant, £1.1m in a contribution for pensions, with the Treasury having calculated that the PCC will be able to raise £5.6m from council tax, if raising the precept by the maximum allowed of £24 per year for a Band D home.

The PCC and Chief Constable have fought a robust and hard-hitting campaign over the past two-and-a-half years to land the message with Government that Bedfordshire Police is the least-appropriately funded force in view of its particular challenges, which consist of what has been assessed as the third highest terror threat in the country, serious organised crime to and from the nearby capital and gang, gun and knife crime issues - with an estimated 40 per cent of all gunshots fired in the entire East of England area, from Norfolk to Kent, being fired in Bedfordshire.

“Finally, the funding of Bedfordshire Police is moving in the right direction with the Home Office and Treasury having clearly woken up to the need for action, given the gap between the frontline I can afford and that which is needed in a county facing such serious and complex crime, together with the burden that the recent pensions shortfall had placed on the budget; but all that will matter to the communities of Bedfordshire is what this means in extra officers and I anticipate that I will now be able to support Bedfordshire Police to recruit 160 new Police Constables in the coming financial year and 100 more in each of the two years beyond this, as well as balancing the books where police pensions are concerned,” said Commissioner Holloway.

"This is an achievement not only for me as PCC and my Chief Constable, Jon Boutcher, who have so robustly and publicly made our case, but for the whole of 'Team Bedfordshire’; our MPs across party politics and especially Andrew Selous in the South West, who led the charge in Parliament! I also want to thank those in our town councils, like Biggleswade and Sandy, who, when I asked them to do so, wrote to the Chancellor to make their views known and every councillor and member of the public who supported us by doing likewise as they did not just criticise Bedfordshire Police, or offer just words, but action.

"This feels like the greatest achievement of my professional life to get this far - it’s certainly been the hardest battle - to land the arguments about Bedfordshire Police with those who hold the purse strings; especially as it comes less than a month after I won my unique £4.571m Special Policing Grant bid for emergency funding, to meet unprecedented costs already incurred by Bedfordshire Police, to fight gun, gang and knife crime," said the PCC.

Chief Constable Jon Boutcher said: “We still need to fully analyse the figures to understand what this means for Bedfordshire Police, but any increase is encouraging and today’s announcement shows the government is aware of the financial pressures forces are under nationally. Ultimately this increase in funding will allow the organisation to grow. The ability to raise council tax precepts is a matter for our Police & Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway, but I’m sure she will want to explore this option to increase the number of officers we have on the front line in our communities.

“Today’s announcement follows the recent £4.571m Special Policing Grant given to the force to pay for the work we have had to carry out this year into gangs, guns and knife crime. We have already started future financial planning and will be seeking further grants to allow us to be more proactive and prevent such issues before they begin.”

“I don’t want to completely overstate the position; the Government has promised to provide Bedfordshire Police with a sustainable year-on-year settlement when it revises the national funding formula for all forces in England and Wales at the end of 2020; but neither should it be underestimated that this is a huge help. It will take a while to filter through to communities as new PCs take around a year to recruit before they start their training, but we’re well placed to build on our current recruitment programme and, while we will be a force with a pretty young frontline, my view is that this is exactly what we need; a young, enthusiastic and driven set of intakes to help their exceptional colleagues,” said the Commissioner.

“The morale boost this should give to our officers, as well as the public, to know extra numbers are heading over the horizon should not be under-estimated.

“I’m not pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes: this is a single year deal and I have provided evidence to Government (in the Demand and Funding Analysis Report of October 2017) that we need 300 more officers and 80 more detectives just to come up to comparable levels with those police forces facing similar crime demands and it needs to be made sustainable, as promised, from 2020 when the whole funding formula is revised, but it would also deliberately mislead the public to suggest that this is not very good news indeed,” said PCC Holloway.

“I came into the role of Bedfordshire Police to give the Force a voice but, believe me, they’ve given me something to shout about. When given the means to do so, Bedfordshire Police produces some of the most exceptional policing in the country, as their command of the leading Counter Terror Intelligence Unit and Regional Organised Crime Unit, which are separately funded for the whole of the East, clearly shows. Now the challenge is to make this helpful money work as far as possible on a local basis against a backdrop of unprecedented rises in demand,” she said.

The Policing Settlement specifically contributed to help forces fund the majority of a £302m shortfall in police pensions across the 43 police forces of England and Wales, of which Bedfordshire Police’s share is currently estimated to be £2.85m over the next two years.

Protocol means the PCC is not able to announce whether she will raise the precept by the maximum allowed without a referendum - £24 a year, or just £2 per month for a Band D home - until her precept intentions are submitted to the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel in February 2019.