Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner -  
01234 842064
PCC launches fifth and final year report as she wins 2.1m more for Bedfordshire Police and submits a further 1.8m in Safer Streets bids to the Home Office
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has produced a report to mark the end of her five year term as a further £2.1m Special Grant has been won to help her force fight Organised Crime Groups and £1.8m more is being requested from the Home Office in Safer Street bids countywide.
 
The new £2.1m Special Grant comes on top of those Commissioner Holloway has won over the past three years of £4.571m, £3m and £2.9m for her cash-strapped force after persuading the Home Office to change its rules on Special Grants especially for Bedfordshire Police. Such grants used to apply only to events taking place on a single day like a terror attack but the PCC convinced successive Policing Ministers that the cost of fighting serious violence in Bedfordshire over a four year period are unprecedented for a force funded at its level.
 
The PCC had expected to stand down voluntarily at the end of her allotted four year term as the elected PCC for Bedfordshire but, due to the pandemic, the Government postponed the election for a full year until May 2021. Therefore, PCC remained in post for an unexpected fifth year.
 
“I could not in all conscience desert my team, the public, Bedfordshire Police and victims of crime at a time of national emergency but although you can’t please everyone in every community with the policing we can afford I’m more proud of what has been achieved here than of anything I have done previously in my 38 year career.
 
“I’ve done as I promised and fought absolutely tooth and claw for Bedfordshire to bring in more extra funding to the force than for more than 20 years and higher recruitment than for more than a decade - increasing officer numbers every single year as I’d promised before becoming Commissioner,” said PCC Holloway.
 
The PCC has delivered upon her pledge, every year, to increase police numbers including planning for the recruitment of 153 new Police Constables in the coming year. This recruitment boost supported the return of Community Policing to Bedfordshire, at the highest level which is affordable, after it was almost stripped out as a cost cutting measure prior to the PCC’s arrival and the creation of specialist units to deliver more equitable policing for local communities, including what has become the largest rural crime unit of all seven forces in the East of England.
 
In addition, the PCC has secured exceptional levels of funding for community safety improvements, including over £900,000 this year for the Safer Streets projects in Bedford and Luton which introduce crime prevention measures and specialist CCTV which follows suspects in the Midland Road area of Bedford and High Town area of Luton and over £2 million in 2020-21 to support charities working with victims, especially to provide safe shelter and assistance to those fleeing Domestic Abuse due to the extraordinary demands brought about by the pandemic.
 
“Where victims of Domestic Violence are concerned, my team worked absolutely tirelessly to secure both hotel accommodation and rental homes to provide emergency shelter during the pandemic, even given the significant difficulties created by the closure of most of the hospitality and rental sectors for much of the year and I’m so proud of them.” said PCC Holloway
 
“In terms of victim care, we kept the Signpost support service open throughout the pandemic. I introduced Signpost in April 2018 to contact victims of crime in Bedfordshire within 24 hours of a crime being recorded and also to connect those impacted by crime - parents, children and partners - with those with the expertise to help them locally. This year I'm absolutely delighted to report that the specialists of Signpost have worked with a highly impressive 4,000+ victims whom they continued to triage on to the range of support services they needed, despite the challenges of Covid.”
 
In February 2020, the PCC opened a new Sexual Assaults Referral Centre (SARC) in Bedfordshire, for those who have been subject to rape, assault and sexual abuse. It is now set in a discreet, serene and comfortable setting, in contrast to the hospital environment in which it was previously housed.
 
“This is one of my proudest achievements as PCC - creating a far better setting to help victims of some of these most serious and invasive crimes start their recovery. I was particularly delighted when the regional NHS leader, responsible for SARCs across the Eastern region, declared it the ‘new gold standard’” said the PCC.
 
Chief Constable, Garry Forsyth, said “In what has been an unprecedented year in so many ways I would pay tribute and offer my personal thanks to our PCC following her unexpected fifth and final year in office. As is evident from the report, which like all of the previous publications demonstrates a substantial range of achievements that make a difference to so many in our communities, an enduring legacy will undoubtedly be the additional funding that the PCC has managed to secure for policing across Bedfordshire. The money secured has of course been pivotal in our ability to increase police officer numbers and embed community policing in every Neighbourhood across the county, as well as tackle the scourge of organised and serious criminality that blights too many of our communities. The SARC is a vital addition to the quality of the services we provide to some of our most vulnerable victims.”
 
This year, the PCC also completed one of what she has described as one of the most important projects of her entire term. The PCC made a commitment in her Police and Crime Plan back in May 2016, to reach out to the county’s Black communities. Following the death of George Floyd in America and the emphasis this placed on the relationship between Black residents and policing, the PCC dedicated 100 hours to compile a report of the same name, hearing in person from as many of Bedfordshire's Black residents as possible between July 2020 and January 2021, from teenagers to those in their eighties.
 
PCC Holloway said “Policing has travelled a vast distance in terms of attitudes, behaviour and a genuine focus on increasing diversity in recent decades from the 1950s to date but memories are long and forgiveness for inappropriate behaviour in the past is difficult to achieve.
 
“The same is true of building a new level of confidence and mutual trust between our Black and Mixed Race residents and those who police their communities, especially if police recruits’ own experiences of such communities is limited. This is the reason that I committed, as a key priority of my term - and time - during 2020-21, to devoting 100 Hours to produce this report.”
 
The PCC wanted to hear directly, in person, from as wide a sample of Bedfordshire’s Black residents as possible to learn their own suggestions of ways in which they could move their relationship forward with policing in Bedfordshire and across the police service in England and Wales.
 
The recommendations which resulted are intended to bring about positive changes at Bedfordshire Police - a force in which the PCC and her two Chief Constables have built record diversity levels and where both have the ambition that this report will help to create positive change across the wider police service and stronger relationships of confidence and trust in all the communities that police serve, without exception.
 
“This report is now going to both the Chief Constable of Bedfordshire and the Chair of the National Police Chiefs Council to learn the many recommendations from our residents including a need to build relationships with children in schools at a far earlier age and a key change to national practise in which probationer officers are required to complete five stop and search procedures in their first two years to try remove this mandatory quota to give communities confidence that every one is necessary,” said PCC Holloway.
 
“I’d like to thank every single one of those who helped me with this project for giving me their time so generously and for making absolutely practical and useful recommendations on behalf of their communities to build more confidence in policing here and more widely,” she said.
 
The OPCC has submitted bids of £400,000 each for Tavistock Street in Bedford and £200,000 in Luton, plus one for £425,000 for the Dunstable/Houghton Regis border to introduce similar Safer Streets projects to those running so successfully in Midland Road and High Town.
 
“I’m going to fight for funds for Bedfordshire to help the force keep residents safe until the last minute I walk out the door but from this week on I’m going to have to be uncharacteristically silent as the election rules mean the end of public engagement like this. It’s been a pleasure to serve this county,” said the PCC.
 
Signpost can be reached on the confidential freephone number 0800 0282 887 and support services across a wide range of crimes can also be accessed via its website,
www.signpostforbedfordshire.com if individuals prefer to self-refer.
 
Similar arrangements are available through Direction, the service the PCC established to transform and connect services available to ex-offenders to help them pursue lives away from crime. Direction can be contacted on 0800 9175 579 and its one to one support services can also be reached independently through its website,
www.directionforbedfordshire.co.uk.

To read the PCC's Fifth Year Annual Report, click here.
To read the PCC's '100 hours to enhance confidence and trust in Bedfordshire Police' Report, click here.