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Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway has launched a new policing plan for Bedford which aims to establish the most visible police presence in the county at the heart of the town.

Commissioner Holloway was joined by ACC Mike Colbourne at a public meeting in Bedford on Thursday to announce brand new police officers being trained for a Community Hub team to work throughout the town and an Enquiries Office based right on the High Street.

“I promised the public more visible policing in the community and it doesn’t get higher profile than an office right at the heart of the town where shoppers and workers can see police by day and officers working in the Night Time Economy, surrounded by pubs and clubs, can also be based.

“There will be a completely new team of community police in Bedford, who are being rolled out in recruitment drives throughout this year and next and, as well as that, almost 100 new PCs for the county in 2016 are taking part in 10 weeks of mentored patrols in Bedford and Luton to boost that presence still further,” she said.

The PCC and ACC, who held the meeting at St Mary’s Church Hall in Bedford, were joined by Superintendent Julia Pink, Inspector Hob Hoque from the Force’s Community Cohesion Team, Chief Inspector Nick Lyall, Head of the Force Control Room Wayne Humberstone and volunteering Watch Coordinator Juliet Wright.

Plans are in place to not only boost the number of officers covering both urban and rural Bedford, but there will be two additional bases for community policing teams – including the Community “Hub” sharing the Bedfordshire Fire premises on Barkers Lane, as well as the Enquiry Office on the High Street that will act as a 24-hour base for officers, especially in the centre of the town.

Intelligence officers will be based in Borough Hall in another example of innovative collaboration with Bedfordshire Police.

The new premises are in addition to the community crime teams currently based at Police Headquarters in Kempston, and will house two Inspectors (one urban and one rural), one Sergeant, 11 Police Constables and seven PCSOs.

“One of the first things I did as Police and Crime Commissioner, was to successfully push for a fourth round of recruitment, on top of what was already planned for 2016,” said Commissioner Holloway.

“This is because I am fully aware that the public’s priority is visible policing, and that’s why it’s my priority too. These extra officers are vital to adequately police one of Bedfordshire’s biggest and liveliest towns, and establish the most visible police presence in the county.

“The Enquiry Office in the centre of Bedford will be visible to shoppers by day for enquiries and information about crime to be passed on and to those using pubs and clubs by night. The new premises will be a base for our Night Time Economy officers who police the High Street until it’s emptied in the early hours around 5am, at weekends.”

The audience was requested to pass on details of any patterns in crime that they notice – such as aggressive begging or street drinking – so that the police team for Bedford and the North of the county can target resources to deal with them as quickly as possible.

Other developments announced at the meeting were also the business case being made for the introduction of a Rural Crime Team to support the existing Rural Crime Liaison Officer, for the country areas outside Bedford and elsewhere and a partnership with Bedford Business Improvement District (Bedford BID) which will see local businesses helping with the recruitment of Special Constables.

For more information about the PCC's priorities for Bedfordshire, please see her Police and Crime Plan.