Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has warmly welcomed the announcement by the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and Home Secretary, Priti Patel, that 20,000 new police posts are to be created, saying that her uniquely exposed and under-resourced police force could be transformed by the promised uplift.
Commissioner Holloway provided evidence to the Home Office in a Demand and Funding Analysis Report in October 2017, supplying the proof that Bedfordshire Police needed a further 300 Police Constables and 80 detectives to begin to reach the level of forces facing similar challenges, even at the general resource levels depleted since 2010.
In the interim, she has been able to use her budget to create a further 60 Police Constable posts, assisted by a combination of savings – through examining every officer, member of staff and expenditure across the Force – and as the result of a Special Grant of £4.571m from Government last December due to the unprecedented rise in demand from Serious Youth Violence; gang, gun and knife crime issues. The Commissioner now maintains that, on top of the 240 remaining shortfall of Police Constables and 80 detectives that were required in 2017, demand proves that a further 200 Police Constables would be needed to allow Bedfordshire Police to deliver crime prevention, as Boris Johnson and his team require, as well as responding to crime.
“This uplift is the largest single increase in Police Constables that has been promised at one time in policing history and, of course, it’s hugely welcome as it shows that law and order is now topping the agenda of the new Government. Where Bedfordshire Police is concerned, it quite simply has the potential to transform police service to the public, depending of course on the number of Police Constables which is allocated to us.
“It’s quite clear that the new Home Secretary, Priti Patel, and Policing Minister, Kit Malthouse, want this uplift to allow Policing as a whole to not only deal with crime reactively but to get ahead of the curve and deal with it proactively, through meaningful crime prevention work. To do that you have to have the numbers; that’s a matter of common sense.
“Bedfordshire Police is now recognised as genuinely unique by the Home Office - and the Special Grant for last year, which has been promised to me again in writing for this year - is absolute proof that the message, and evidence, have landed there to prove that the Force does not currently have the resources to respond to all the crime we have here; which includes the third highest terror risk in the country, county lines drugs and weapons dealing from our county to London - not simply into it from the capital - plus the gang and knife issues that come with that crime type and all the crime challenges that are associated with an international airport - in Luton – and the main road and rail network which passes through Bedfordshire.
“That is why I will be making a case to the new National Policing Board that, in order to get upstream of such crime and prevent it in the first place, we need a further 200 officers on top of the 240 and 80 detectives which we have already proved we need. That is what would genuinely transform police service in this county,” said PCC Holloway.
She also discounted the suggestions in national headlines that a lack of lockers would prevent the uplift from being able to be delivered and addressed other logistical challenges, including training facilities, supervisors and station space.
“I would prefer by far, as would my Chief Constable, to be dealing with the challenges of expanding a police force quickly, rather than those involved in contracting it; so, where all what Boris would call “gloomsters” are concerned, I would like to confirm that I will pay for lockers to get desperately needed officers into this county.
“Bedfordshire delivers its training with two neighbouring forces - Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire - which means that we have three times the capacity to make changes to recruitment and, although nobody is saying this will not be a challenge, my message to the Prime Minister’s team and to the new Home Secretary and Policing Minister is this: if you let us have the officers we need, I will make sure that we make it work and work quickly,” said Commissioner Holloway.
She pointed to one aspect of national police planning which she suggests is a genuine blocker across the country, however; the plan of the College of Policing to insist that all police officers have a degree and that new PCs will have to spend considerably more time in the classroom than under the current training system, over a three year period, to qualify for one, from 2021.
“We simply can’t allow this programme – whatever your viewpoint on whether it is even necessary for every single officer to have a degree – to de-rail the greatest uplift in police numbers ever to re-fill the void which has opened up since 2010.
“This so called Policing Educational Qualifications Framework – PEQF – has to be abandoned now as the sole route into the service for new PCs from 2021. Just putting it back by another year, which is one proposal, won’t be good enough. We need both a degree programme and a non-degree training route.
“My public and our officers and staff need new colleagues as soon as is conceivably possible: they need officers with a sense of vocation more than a single qualification and I am already in touch with the Prime Minister’s team to make sure that they receive them. I also look forward to discussing this with the new Policing Minister, Kit Malthouse, when he visits Bedfordshire, which is one of the first arrangements made by his office since taking up the job,” she said.
Kit Malthouse is now to visit Bedfordshire Police in September.