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HMIC REPORT ACKNOWLEDGES BEDS POLICE FACES FINANCIAL CHALLENGE
Bedfordshire’s Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC), Kathryn Holloway, has welcomed the acknowledgement in the latest HMIC Police effectiveness report of Bedfordshire Police (published today – 2 March), that the Force faces a more acute financial challenge than others.

The annual inspection of police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy (PEEL), by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary states that the context within which the Force operates is particularly difficult, as Bedfordshire Police faces significant challenges because it has low levels of funding compared with other forces, but unusually high levels of serious threats and criminality that are not normally dealt with by a force of its size.

Responding to the report Commissioner Holloway said: “I am enormously grateful to the HM Inspector of Constabulary for nailing her colours to the mast in her recent report for supporting me and the Force in recognising the challenges Bedfordshire Police faces because of its low levels of funding.

“The Inspector knows that the Chief Constable, Jon Boutcher, and I are definitely not sitting on our hands waiting for this to happen to make improvements during a critical period when the Government is deciding on the method it will use to decide Bedfordshire’s slice of the national funding ‘pie’ this spring.

“When I came into the role of PCC, in May last year, I promised to increase the Frontline and enhance services for the public, since then Bedfordshire Police has recruited 96 more Police Constables and is recruiting right now to find another 100 this year.”

The HMIC report also states that the Force has been assessed as inadequate in respect of its effectiveness at keeping people safe and reducing crime.  It adds that the overall inadequate grading should not be seen as a reflection of the commitment and hard work of the police officers and staff in Bedfordshire who, day to day are doing their best with the limited resources, and often under extreme pressure, to keep the public safe.

PCC Holloway continued: “Unfortunately, the HMIC latest grading for the Force in the Effectiveness report cannot reflect all the work currently happening, as an Inspector can only give credit for work which is fully completed and bedded in, to prove that it is producing improvements. This makes describing Bedfordshire Police as inadequate rather like criticising a half built house for not being water tight.

“While it is disappointing, it cannot truly surprise anyone that this means an ‘inadequate’ rating until all the new recruitment is in place. What I can do is reassure you that nobody at Bedfordshire Police is complacent about improving its’ service to you and your communities – and this work is well in hand.”

In addition, the latest report recognises the issues Bedfordshire Police faces, saying the Force acknowledges the problems that exist and is determined to improve.  HMIC is hopeful that the commitment of the new Police & Crime Commissioner to focus on community policing and crime prevention, and the determination of chief officers and the continued hard work of frontline officers and staff to make improvements, will lead to the changes needed.

Kathryn Holloway concluded: “The Inspector has told me that this latest report is not an adverse comment on the PCC – far from it.  She sees that renewed recruitment and launch of Community Hubs of officers throughout the county is a driver of improvement.  However, HMIC is becoming frustrated at three years of promises of Community Policing like this would be repopulated, which is why she has felt it necessary to give the grading she has.  She has told me and the Chief Constable that she now finds our plans to have real credibility.

“However, I am certainly not complacent, and getting it right when it comes to the Forces response to young people who run away from local authority care is something which absolutely has to be improved.”

Further comment from PCC Holloway can be viewed in the video below.