Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner -  
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PCC hosts 4th Annual Parish Councils Conference to explain what Bedfordshire Police has been delivering across communities in 2019
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, hosted her fourth annual Parish Council Conference at the Rufus Centre, Flitwick, and thanked 84 separate parishes from across the county for their enthusiastic response to the chance to hear at first hand from the top police team and community officers (1 October 2019).

The PCC was joined by Chief Constable Garry Forsyth, Chief Superintendent David Boyle, Inspector Nick Masters of the Biggleswade Community Hub and Sergeant Ian Leeson as she wanted the parishes and their councillors to have the opportunity to ask questions of senior officers, to hear some examples of the best of their work taking place in Bedfordshire’s communities over the past year and for the PCC to bring them up to date with news on funding and officer recruitment. 

The PCC opened the conference by stating “First of all, this has been quite an extraordinary year for me in terms of what I have been able to bring into Bedfordshire Police with the assistance of the top team and the Chief Finance Officer in terms of rewriting the traditional definition of Special Grants from the Home Office to bring home £4.571m to Bedfordshire which, together with further grants to tackle youth violence, represents the largest surge in central funding for the Force for over 20 years.”

The Commissioner explained that, even before the current promised uplift in police numbers, she had been able to support the Force to double the response to Serious Organised Crime and youth violence and bring about more recruitment in a single year than since austerity began.

“The Special Grant was absolutely vital to allow the Force to double the specialist unit, Op Boson, which concentrates on gang, gun and knife crime, and also to allow me to proceed with plans to recruit 160 new PCs this financial year,” she said.

The Commissioner confirmed that the first tranche of officers to be delivered under the newly announced uplift is likely to reflect the current way all police funding is distributed.

“I, of course, have very strong views that the forces in most need, such as Bedfordshire, should have a greater share but, given the timescale against which the first few thousand officers are being brought online, we understand that the share is being based on the current National Revenue Expenditure. This will, at least, give us an extra 18 to 21 officers and this will be on top of the 160 already planned."

The PCC also confirmed that, in addition to the Special Grant, another of which she has just applied for, Bedfordshire Police has won a further £1.36m this year to concentrate on work to alleviate youth violence and £880,000 for a Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit, working with local partners, including councils to focus on the issue.

Chief Constable Forsyth spoke about the financial struggles Bedfordshire Police face every day. Chief Constable Forsyth said “If our income from the Government increased, then somewhere else suffers as the main pot never increases, it just gets shared out differently. That’s why it’s so important that the overall funding formula is revised but we’re still very grateful for the extra officers of course. It causes us some ‘problems’ with how to train them and where to put them but these are nice problems to have after years of having to drive money out of policing.”

He also explained the difference in modern demands on police in terms of crime and why traditional policing of villages and smaller towns has had to change,

“Here’s an analogy for you. The iPhone was not around 10 years ago. A normal 64GB iPhone can hold 11,000 complete works of Shakespeare. We have to sometimes look for just one line in that to satisfy disclosure requirements. There is artificial intelligence that can do this for us, but that is very, very expensive and none of this investment delivers cops to your front door or out on the street and can’t do the things that you want to see. So we have to get a balance between insuring our cops have got the right level of technology that enables them to keep pace with the criminals and do their jobs and also satisfy the need that you all have for visible local policing that understands your issues.”

Chief Superintendent Boyle, who heads up Community Policing explained the Force’s approach to problem solving.

“I am really thankful over the last couple of years to see the investment we have had, in not only the Community Hubs but also in supporting the rural crime team. There is a very bespoke service there to help and support our rural communities.”

This year, the parishes and councillors requested to hear more about the work of the eight different Community Hubs of Inspectors, Sergeants, PCs and PCSOs and the priorities of the Community teams. The PCC used this as an opportunity to discuss the recent Community Hub Awards event, held on 19th September 2019.

“We decided to have a Community Policing event, where we asked each of the Hubs around the county, to nominate some of the most successful problem solving officers, but to also identify those members of the public who have gone out of their way to work with Bedfordshire Police to bring about some of those results.”

Insp Nick Masters, talked the conference through the exceptional work of his Biggleswade-based Hub, in conjunction with Shefford Town Council, to drive down Anti-Social Behaviour in the town, known as Op Leithen.

Insp Masters said “I was delighted to have this opportunity to present the hard work of our team and our partners to an audience that were keen to hear the detail of the practical application of our problem solving and its benefits to our Community.”

He was accompanied by Sgt Ian Leeson who spoke of the outstanding operation - Op Lemon - around Bedford Prison, working with residents and surrounding businesses as well as the prison itself, to dramatically reduce “throw overs”, where items of value for re-sale in HMP Bedford, are thrown over the walls to inmates, ranging from drugs and tobacco to toiletries.

Chief Superintendent Boyle said “I’m really grateful to all those who attended, It was a good turn out with representatives from across the county. It’s really great to be able to explain and highlight some examples of the work carried out by our Community Policing teams and the investment the Force is putting into getting more officers working with communities across the county.”