Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner -  
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PCC launches report detailing achievements in her second year in office as she pledges to fight rise in knife and gang crime
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, today launched a report to set out for the public the achievements she has made with the Force over the past year - and pledged to concentrate on the fight to reduce knife and gang violence, moving forward.

The
report was launched today (3 May), before an audience of councillors, community members and the PCC's grant-funded organisations at the University of Bedfordshire’s Bedford complex.

“As the public’s voice on policing, I consider it's necessary for me to update the public every single year on what I have been doing, working shoulder to shoulder with Bedfordshire Police and the Chief Constable, Jon Boutcher, to deliver improvements in policing even within the constraints of our budget” said the PCC.

“In just one year, the Force has been found to be the most improved of all the 43 in England and Wales by the police watchdog, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, HMICFRS, after a particularly low grading twelve months ago, based on the year before that. Nobody can argue that this is not substantial progress and my team and I and, of course, everyone in the Force, is delighted that all the hard work seems to be paying dividends,” she said.

The Commissioner went on to detail some of the key elements of progress over the last year, which deliver on promises in her Police and Crime Plan:-

* The return of Community Policing with eight, rather than the planned seven, Neighbourhood Policing Teams as "Community Hubs" in towns countywide - with an extra team now added at Luton Airport

* The new Signpost Victims’ Hub call centre and website to provide an enhanced response to victims of crime and those also affected - such as parents, children and partners - with the Hub staffed by specialist Victim Care Coordinators at Police HQ on the free and confidential helpline - 0800 0282 887 - and the website listing support services in the county, with maps and a language translation service - at signpostforbedfordshire.com 

* Creation of the largest Rural Crime Team in the East of England - joined by 4 more PCSOs this year - against a fall in the value of rural thefts across Bedfordshire by £200,000, according to the National Farmers Union

* The opening of a new high profile Enquiries Office for Bedford, in Lime Street, off the High Street

* Police moving to share the Community Fire Station at Bury Park in Luton as a base and moving into fire stations in Ampthill, Leighton Buzzard and Barker’s Lane, Bedford, as planned, with the Fire Service also sharing Bedfordshire Police’s Bury Park office, in the Bury Park Community Centre on Dunstable Road

* Ever closer working with the Fire Service including Fire agreeing to complete burglary prevention patrols for the police as part of their “red route” patrols to also combat arson

* £150,000 won from the NHS and £40,000 from the Home Office by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) for counselling therapies for victims of sex abuse and which have delivered anti-gangs and knife crime training for 1,070 teachers and other frontline workers and 2,000 pupils

The Commissioner was joined by Bedfordshire Police’s new Assistant Chief Constable, Jackie Sebire, who spoke of the improvements the Force had made in protecting the vulnerable, particularly in the area of young people who abscond and the Vulnerable Adults Risk Assessment Conference and Coordinator (VARAC), funded by the PCC, which helps police identify those adults most at risk of becoming repeat victims and builds an action plan around them with colleagues from the local authorities and other services.

“Whilst we continue to face a challenging policing environment, the Force has, through a number of initiatives such as VARAC, our cybercrime team and missing persons unit, made real differences to those most vulnerable within our communities,” said ACC Sebire.

“I have a tiny team at the OPCC who also oversee my Grants’ Commissioning process, distributing £1.1m of Ministry of Justice and Bedfordshire Police funds to organisations providing victims’ services and projects enhancing community safety, as well as supporting me in my role to hold the Force to account, in work with our Triforce partners - Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Police and their PCCs - and across the seven force Eastern Alliance.


That’s in addition to all the work in the past year to help Bedfordshire Police, such as bringing in a specialist team from the Home Office to establish the extent of knife and gang issues across the whole county and winning the funds to support training both for teachers and pupils around these issues in our schools. I’m proud of every single one of them,” said Commissioner Holloway.

The PCC devoted half of the launch event to providing evidence of the work being done by her office and Bedfordshire Police to fight the threat of growing knife crime, in line with a nationwide trend. This included a presentation by Crime Prevention Sergeant Ben Dimmock and Schools’ Officer, Richard Denton, including the extension of Junior Police Squads, working with 11-year-olds in nine schools, rather than three, in the previous year.

Sergeant Dimmock said: “When we first began, the children were not focussed, but now I feel really proud of them and how far they have come. They have had to learn a lot, but have all done really well." 

The Commissioner explained the knife crime toolkit provided to all schools in the county in the past year by Bedfordshire Police and regular meetings between Head Teachers and officers. She said that the fact that knife crime had risen by 4% over the past year in Bedfordshire, rather than more substantially, as elsewhere, was due at least in part to the extensive knife-related initiatives of the Force.

Commissioner Holloway also paid tribute to members of families who have lost loved ones to knife, gun and gang crime for working with her office to provide projects for children and young people to point to the dangers and consequences of becoming involved. She particularly welcomed Amanda Foster, who lost her husband Paul, and Duayne Brown, whose brother Delaney was killed, to the event. The pair are funded by the PCC to provide what she described as an “inspirational” youth club and recording studio project in Luton. 

“None of us can claim that there is not a knife and gang problem across the county as a whole and that we must act urgently to drive this out. Having helped to provide the evidence of the problem through the Home Office reviews, I don’t see it as appropriate to want to take the lead as some would suggest that politics is being brought into this, which would be a distraction when saving children’s lives is what matters,” said the PCC. 


I back the Force in hoping that Health will become the lead, as they have done successfully in Scotland and Manchester, as it can be far easier for health professionals to engage with difficult to reach young people than police officers. What is clear is that Bedfordshire Police and all its partners need to work together on this issue over the coming year,” she said, also thanking the Chief Officers of the local authorities, Health, Fire and the Youth Offending Service for their joint commitment to tackling the issue.

Commissioner Holloway's Two Years On Report