Bedfordshire Police received the grading following an inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
PCC Festus Akinbusoye said: “The grading was part of a PEEL report which rates us as a force on police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy.
“I am thrilled that we have been rated as ‘Outstanding’ for the way in which we manage offenders. It also shows a 91% reduction in burglars re-offending.
“The PEEL inspections assess the performance of all 43 police forces in England and Wales and we were the first force in the country to receive the grade for that area of work.
‘Our Integrated Management Team (IOM) is a multi agency team led by Bedfordshire Police and Bedfordshire Probation, co-ordinated by YouTurn Futures and involving other partners including the Community Safety Partnerships of Bedford, Central Bedfordshire and Luton: Drug and Alcohol support services of Path 2 Recovery and ReSoLUTiON, Reactiv8 and KeyStage Housing. All agencies working together with offenders to break the cycle of crime.
“The IOM team works with offenders at high risk of re-offending to support changes in offender behaviour and remove issues which influence offending.
“Reducing re-offending forms an integral part of my Police and Crime Plan. I have committed to funding £155,000 into ‘adult offender management’ as part of my Grant Fund for 2022/23 of which You Turn Futures are part of – so I look forward to continuing to invest in this area”.
Stuart Smith, Director of YouTurn Futures, a Bedfordshire based criminal justice charity said: “We are pleased that the work within Bedfordshire on how we manage offenders in our communities has been recognised by HMICFRS. Working in partnership across the county helps to ensure that those people who pose the greatest risk are managed and supported”.
Alongside the ‘Outstanding’ grade for Managing offenders, Bedfordshire Police received ‘Good’ ratings in four areas:
- Engaging with and treating the public with respect
- Preventing crime and anti-social behaviour
- Building supporting and protecting the workforce
- Strategic planning, organisational management and value for money
It was graded ‘adequate’ for ‘Protecting vulnerable people’ and ‘requires improvement’ in both Responding to the public and Investigating crime.
The inspection praised the force across a range of areas including work on digital engagement and ensuring ethical use of stop and search and use of force powers.
The work to tackle cyber crime including the innovative use of four digital vans to assess and secure evidence in high-risk investigations was also highlighted as good practice.
Areas for improvement included call handling in the Force Contact Centre and oversight of investigations to better protect victims including the use of orders such as Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs) – with only 14 issued during 2020/21.
Tom Church from the National Farmers Union (NFU), who was present at the recent Police and Crime Panel meeting said: “The experience of some farmers and landowners in parts of Bedfordshire has been poor when they have contacted the force to report theft of machinery and vehicles.
“We are pleased that this has been highlighted as an area for improvement by the Inspectors and very much welcomed the opportunity to understand more about this.
Freya Ward, NFU County Vice chair further commented: “We are glad more investment is being put into the Force Control room for call handling and we welcomed hearing the rural crime team is going to expand in numbers. The officers in the rural crime team understand rural life and the difficulties we face from hare coursers and other organised criminals who target isolated properties”.
Mr Akinbusoye further commented: “The fact the areas for improvement that the inspectorate has identified came as no surprise to the force executive says to me that the leadership of the force knows where more attention and investment needs to be made.
“Feedback from residents given to me about the time taken to answer some 999 and 101 calls made it very clear more needs to be done. Call handling and the oversight of investigations were already highlighted to me as areas for concern by the Chief Constable, but investment was needed to deliver sustainable improvements. And that is where some of the increase in this year’s council tax precept is going, straight into the areas that need to be improved.
“Into better technology and more call handlers in the force control room, twenty more detectives into our Emerald team dedicated to the investigation of domestic abuse and serious sexual offences, and almost doubling the size of our rural crime team.
“Without a fair police funding formula for Bedfordshire there will always be areas that don’t have the investment they need and a constant juggle of where to move resources to. I continue to lobby for the review of the funding formula to ensure that Bedfordshire receives what it needs based on the reality within our county boundaries, not on its historic status as a shire county.
“I am incredibly proud of all of the officers and staff of Bedfordshire Police– they are a credit to our county. Their commitment to serving the public, their diligence, professionalism, and bravery to put themselves in harm’s way between law-abiding residents and the criminals who blight our towns and villages never ceases to amaze me.
“I will continue to hold the Chief to account for the delivery of the improvements that need to be made. I want local people to be able to see and feel that the force is responding to the need to grow and develop across all parts of policing to tackle the increasing demand and changes in crime and criminality in Bedfordshire”.
Ian Dalgarno, Chair of the Police and Crime Panel said: “Our role as a panel is to provide scrutiny and oversight of the PCC’s work.
“I know the PCC is well aware of the areas for improvement needed in the Force Contact Centre and has already been discussing this with the Chief Constable at the Delivery and Beating Crime meeting.
“I am confident that with the review of the FCC taking place, the force are committed in investing in staff and technology. I look forward to seeing this new approach.
“Oversight of investigations to better protect victims, which was also graded as ‘requires improvement’ is also on track following the formation of a separate safeguarding and intervention team.
“I am particularly looking forward to seeing the PCC work together with the Force Executive team to invest focus on where to improve our service to the public.”
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