Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, is backing the Force’s front-line police officers following the broadcast of Channel 5’s “Police Code Zero: Officer Under Attack” - featuring an incident involving two Bedfordshire officers - as figures show that on average in the UK a police officer is attacked every 20 minutes.
The programme showed the officers being assaulted while on duty in Silver Street, Bedford, in January, as they dealt with a drunk and abusive man in possession of a knife, who had been ejected from a pub, late on a Saturday night. The man who assaulted them pleaded guilty at court to two counts of assault on a police officer and was fined £120, while the officers received victim surcharge payments of £50 and £75 respectively, designed to be paid by those responsible for a crime.
“The programme showed the stark reality of what our police officers are facing on the streets of Bedfordshire every single day and it’s wholly unacceptable. In my view, an attack on a police officer is not the same as an assault on any other member of the public, because the police are standing on the front-line between those who keep the law and those who want to undermine it. That’s why an attack on an officer should be met with the toughest penalty possible,” said Commissioner Holloway.
PC Hayley Hunter, who was one of the officers assaulted, said: “It is only afterwards, when the adrenaline has worn off and you play things over in your mind that you think, ‘Wow, what did I just go through? Could he have used that knife against us?'
“I don’t think it mattered to him that I was wearing a uniform, or that I was a woman.”
“I know Hayley well and the bitter irony of this assault is that, as a member of the Community Cohesion Team, she is out in our county every working day building better relationships and trust in policing. Awards of less than £100 as compensation after an attack like this, and that on Hayley’s colleague, are derisory.
“It’s why I called on a cross party basis for support for extending the prison term for assaulting an officer in the execution of their duty last year. Since this is now still only a year, despite a change in the law, it’s still wholly insufficient in my view,” said Commissioner Holloway.
In November, the PCC won a Home Office Special Grant for £4.571m to cover the unprecedented cost of fighting gang, gun and knife crime in Bedfordshire.
Commissioner Holloway said: "Policing is facing more severe demand than ever before. Our officers do an incredibly difficult job and I wouldn't be doing my own if I didn’t consider the protection of our officers, in order to protect the public, as an absolute priority.
“It's a stated priority in my Police and Crime Plan to look after our officers to the best of my ability, otherwise, how can they be expected to be able to protect people and fight crime across this county. It’s why I’ve had discussions with our judges about penalties in their courts and am seeking to do likewise with our magistrates."
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, is backing the Force’s front-line police officers following the broadcast of Channel 5’s “Police Code Zero: Officer Under Attack” - featuring an incident involving two Bedfordshire officers - as figures show that on average in the UK a police officer is attacked every 20 minutes.
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has launched a one stop shop service for ex-offenders to literally give them Direction to the services that can support them to change their lives, on leaving prison.
The new service - called Direction - is a countywide initiative to help support former offenders to help lead a life free from crime offering both a single online home of services including help with housing, accommodation, work and benefits, rebuilding family relationships, drug and alcohol dependency and building better health; it consists of a website listing quality support services across the county - at directionforbedfordshire.co.uk - and a free and confidential call centre of specialist advisors, available on 0800 917 5579.
Direction has been set up with the help of former prisoners themselves, including those who have served lengthy ‘life’ terms, to advise on what support opportunities should be included.
“It’s no good me sitting in my ivory tower as Police and Crime Commissioner, deciding what former prisoners want and need to be able to stay out of crime and how this should be expressed. I’m so grateful to former prisoners for their help in shaping the website - directionforbedfordshire.co.uk - in terms of every word written and every service that has been included,” said Commissioner Holloway.
“Our work with former offenders is vital to the success of the Direction service – they've been through the ‘revolving door’ to prison and now want to turn their backs on crime. They can only do this if meaningful help is provided – and every individual’s needs are different.
“The Freephone number will provide really valuable extra support for people who've previously been offenders, but now want to look to the future and a life outside crime. Not everyone has access to a computer or the internet, but it’s easier to make a free telephone call.
“Those answering the calls are specialists in their field but, crucially, they're not from either the police or probation services. Almost every ex-offender has more than one problem requiring support and this is an attempt to look at them as individuals and not statistics."
Direction is backed by a pledge from Jobcentres to provide a representative in every one of 13 in Bedfordshire, and across the border in Hertfordshire, to see an ex-offender to advise on benefits and work opportunities on the same day as their first visit.
“If an ex-offender leaves prison without access to any income it’s setting them up to fail and return to crime as a survival mechanism. I want to set them up to succeed so I’m also indebted to the Department of Work and Pensions for arranging this with us,” said the PCC.
The call centre will be available from 9-5 on weekdays. The Commissioner has funded a full time co-ordinator for Direction to assist its call handlers, and the freephone line is run through the charity YouTurn Futures, which already has extensive experience of working with prolific ex-offenders who want to turn their lives around, for the OPCC and Bedfordshire Police.
Elvis Shaw is a former offender who now volunteers with Reactiv8, which works with prisoners at HMP Bedford both before and after release. He said: “Direction has everything under one umbrella including employability, housing, everything that somebody coming out of prison is going to need. It’s a great support and if you want to change, the help is there.”
Direction has been modelled on the successful Signpost service established by Commissioner Holloway in 2018 to support victims of crime, which also features an online directory of available services alongside a call centre team of specialists.
Bedfordshire-based criminal justice charity YouTurn Futures is working in partnership with the Commissioner to deliver the scheme. Following its launch, Director Stuart Smith said: “Direction is an innovative approach to reducing reoffending across Bedfordshire. It provides a central hub for statutory, voluntary and community agencies to work together for an ex-offender and deliver a joined up approach in tackling the drivers of offending behaviour in order to reduce reoffending and make Bedfordshire a safer place.”
Direction Hub Lead, Neill Waring, said of the launch: “We want to help former offenders to find the right professional knowledge and networks for them, and can also help concerned parents, partners or friends to find support for their loved ones.”
The Direction website hosts a directory of all the key agencies and organisations in Bedfordshire that offer support and advice for ex-offenders, their families and friends. The website can be accessed at: https://directionforbedfordshire.co.uk/.
The specialist call centre is available on 0800 917 5579, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, is inviting members of the public and the Bedfordshire Police workforce to quiz candidates hoping to become the next Chief Constable of as part of a ground-breaking bid to open up the interview process.
Candidates for the Chief Constable role will be questioned by an audience made up of officers, staff, partners and the general public and the event will be live streamed to anyone wanting to watch it as it happens online.
The public panel will make up part of a rigorous selection process awaiting the candidates during their assessment day on 23 May. The successful applicants will also undergo interviews on a one to one basis with the PCC, the politically independent Chair of the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel Paul Cain, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service Chief Paul Fuller, who works closely with the Force in collaborative projects and sharing of community fire stations, and successful local businessman and house building developer Steve Smith, who will be representing the county’s business community and will examine each candidate’s strategic vision and financial planning capabilities.
Candidates will also have to deliver two media interviews in response to an unfolding emergency scenario, as part of the event at the University of Bedfordshire’s Bedford campus.
Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway is responsible for appointing the new Chief Constable to replace Jon Boutcher who is standing down in July. Commissioner Holloway said: “My aim is for this to be the most transparent recruitment process for a new Chief in the history of Bedfordshire Police.
“The Chief Constable clearly sets the tone for the organisation and the way it delivers its operations across the county. It’s absolutely vital that we recruit the right leader who is able to meet these challenges and drive the organisation forward in a way that reflects the culture we insist on in relation to tolerance and cohesion across every single community and putting victims genuinely at the centre of everything we do, in a force that's fit for the 2020s.
“The new Chief must also be able to work with, and lead, those from every department across the Force and maintain relationships with our key partners countywide. I want to see how they interact with our own residents and employees to ensure that our new police leader is comfortable answering not only to me but to the people they serve.”
Each candidate will have 10 minutes to present to the audience to explain the ways they intend to secure and build on Bedfordshire Police’s improvements and current service, before taking 10 minutes of questions, selected at random from those present. The presentations will start at 2pm and run until around 4pm to meet the diary needs of as many key partners taking part as possible.
Any member of the public, or Bedfordshire Police itself, wishing to book a place can do so via this Eventbrite link. (https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/chief-constable-public-selection-process-tickets-61483884955)
We are welcoming nominations for women in the following categories and would encourage those who feel they know someone worthy of the award to kindly complete and return the nomination form to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
An individual who has volunteered their time in the support of others.
|Young Persons Educational Award
An individual or team that has worked with young people to educate/support them to ensure their safeguarding.
|Health Carers Award
An individual who is dedicated to looking after those with health care needs.
|Offender Rehabilitation Services Award
An individual or group who have assisted in the rehabilitation of an offender.
|Community Group Award
A team from the community that has given a particular focus to safeguarding
|Blue Light Awards
A team within the blue light arena that has particularly supported safeguarding.
|Victims Services Award
An individual or team that has provided excellent service to victims.
|Bedfordshire Police Officer or Staff Award
An individual officer or Police staff member who has gone above and beyond the call of duty for safeguarding.
|Life Time Achievement Award
An individual who has a long history of supporting people in the safeguarding arena.
An individual who has used personal experience to help others.
|Woman of the Year Award
Giving recognition to a woman who has inspired and influenced other women.
Nomination Form for ‘The women who make Bedfordshire better’ Awards
The closing date for nominations is Friday 2nd June 2019. For more information or to enquire about sponsoring/ attending the event, please email email@example.com or call the office on 01234 842208.
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, visited Dunstable’s specialist youth club and adult day centre for members with Special Educational Needs to link the outstanding centre with the Force for training and support to protect the most vulnerable.
Commissioner Holloway toured the Kids in Action youth club for under 18s, and The Base, call in centre for older members, on Wednesday 24 April 2019 at the Apex Business Centre, Boscombe Road, Dunstable. The centre, which is unique in Bedfordshire, includes leisure facilities such as a cafe, soft play area, dance floor, computer games club and screening room. The building works as a drop in centre for adults with special needs between 10am and 2pm every Wednesday and as a club for children, including a Saturday youth club and weekly disco.
“I genuinely consider this centre is truly exceptional as it allows both children and adults with special needs to be themselves and enjoy the freedoms and leisure activities that others take completely for granted. Too often, those with special educational requirements and disabilities are excluded from the sheer enjoyment of all of these facilities. The staff are quite outstanding and, even on the basis of a single visit, it was absolutely clear that they know every member as an individual and welcome their carers too,” said Commissioner Holloway.
“Not only that but I spoke to several families who find the centre to be absolutely invaluable as it links them to other families facing similar challenges around disabilities from autism to cerebral palsy. As a mother myself, I can only begin to imagine how isolating it must be if you don’t have somewhere like Kids in Action and The Base to entertain your children, at any age, or to meet others who are coping with the same issues,” she said.
The Commissioner explained the work that her office and Bedfordshire Police are doing to show those running organisations for vulnerable people the signs to look for to avoid their members and clients being exploited by criminals; including the practise of “cuckooing” - in which drug dealers groom vulnerable individuals into considering them as friends, before invading and taking over their homes for dealing.
PCC Holloway also spoke of the work of the force to safeguard vulnerable people online as part of the national Prevent programme, to protect them from radicalisation of any kind, in which groups also look to befriend and influence those who appear isolated.
“Kids in Action and The Base are currently looking to make a £650,000 investment in buying, rather than renting, their building; they tell me they receive no handouts from any government organisation and provide a superb service for their members of every age, which is not being provided elsewhere. My office is to be involved in fund-raising for them, as a result of our visit, through a member of my staff who already works as part of a social group which raises funds for children.
“I cannot think of a more deserving case and hope local community fundraising groups across the county, and particularly those in Dunstable, really get behind an organisation which is demonstrably changing lives for the better,” she said.
Paul Bowen-James, who runs Kids in Action and The Base, said the centre is already visited by special needs groups from as far afield as London boroughs, as nothing similar seems to exist elsewhere.
He said: “We have come on leaps and bounds since I established the charity 23 years ago. We now welcome around 250 members every week and continue to go from strength to strength.
“I was delighted to welcome Commissioner Holloway to the club and really enjoyed spending time with her talking about what we do and are trying to achieve.
“There is a lot of crossover between ourselves and the police and areas where we can help each other and work together, which I am hoping we can all do off the back of this initial meeting.”
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner attended a packed meeting organised by Flitwick’s Town Council, despite having broken her foot - apologising for sitting throughout as she answered questions on funding, Community Policing and her plans to increase the frontline with the highest single year of recruitment for over 10 years. (Tuesday April 9 2019.)
Commissioner Holloway had been invited to the event by Flitwick’s Mayor Phil Thompson and the PCC’s presence helped bring in a capacity crowd to the meeting at Flitwick Library in Coniston Road.
Questions centred on her planned uplift to the frontline of Bedfordshire Police, which is currently among the most stretched in Britain, given the crime challenges she explained to the audience, including the third highest terror threat nationally and serious organised crime groups, involved in drug, gun and people trafficking, assisted by the major road and rail network traversing the county and the presence of an international airport at Luton, which the Commissioner proceeded to link to recent and current police activity in Flitwick itself.
"I don’t take it lightly at all when having to increase council tax by £2 a month, but what you, and every single community I visit, tell me is that you want more police officers and the most visible policing possible. That’s why, although the increased money from Government to Bedfordshire Police for 2019-20 did not even cover stand still pressures of inflation, pay and pensions in this financial year, I was determined to deliver a change that you would find palatable. That’s why we will see the highest recruitment to Bedfordshire Police this year than for over a decade, of 160 officers, of which 60 are brand new posts," said the PCC.
"We will be doubling the number of PCs in seven Community Policing Hubs across the county, when including a trouble shooting task force - the Neighbourhood Intervention Team - of a Sergeant and nine PCs, who will arrive in an area with a pernicious crime problem at neighbourhood level to help stamp it out."
The PCC was accompanied by the Constable covering the local area, based at Ampthill Community Fire Station, PC Aaron Dagley, who confirmed the information she gave the audience concerning the discovery of a ‘cuckooing’ address in the small town, which had been taken over forcibly by drug users from a vulnerable householder, and how police had got on top of the problem.
The Commissioner also praised the North Bedfordshire Community Hub as a whole in relation to the way it dealt with an address linked with drug dealing in Ivel Way, Flitwick, with a closure order obtained from magistrates this week to protect the community from Anti Social Behaviour and disorder, centred on the address.
PC Aaron Dagley went on to deal with questions from residents and discuss his activity in relation to nuisance youths, of whom 20 were recent subjects of Anti Social Behaviour Orders as a result of the work of PC Dagley and his team, in conjunction with Central Bedfordshire Council’s ASB wardens, in a move to encourage parents to much more actively monitor what their children are doing in the town.
The PCC also answered questions about difficulty reported by a resident in supplying CCTV evidence of vehicle theft to the force and confirmed this would be looked into, if details were given to PC Dagley, as all public interactions with the police, via the Control Room or in person are both recorded and retained.
Bedfordshire Chief Constable Jon Boutcher has announced he is stepping down after more than five years with the force.
He has 35 years’ police service, spending 28 years as a detective with the Metropolitan Police. He worked on the Regional and National Crime Squad, targeting serious and organised crime groups with links to international criminal networks. He was also part of the Met’s Flying Squad before becoming a leading counter terrorism senior investigating officer dealing with numerous national and international operations.
He joined Bedfordshire in 2014 and took over as chief constable the following year.
He said: "I have been incredibly fortunate to have had such a wonderful policing career, but being Chief Constable of Bedfordshire has been the highlight – without question.
"The force is fantastic and it has been a privilege to be chief constable during this period which has seen us improve across the board. Bedfordshire as a force had previously faced criticism over many years, that is no longer the position. We have gone from being under special scrutiny and supposedly the one of the ‘worst’ performing forces in the country according to Her Majesty Inspectorate of Constabulary, to no longer being subject to that additional HMICFRS scrutiny. In fact we now have positive HMICFRS reports, with forces now coming here from all over the country, and indeed overseas, to see the brilliant work we are doing.
"One of my proudest achievements is that we are one of the top performing forces when it comes to recruiting from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. The work we are doing to attract candidates to ensure we are reflective of the communities we serve has been held up as best practice and is something I’m utterly passionate about. Policing is the most incredible profession and it should be ‘open’ to people from all communities, we must represent the people we serve. That is just one example of the super work the force is doing, pushing boundaries, using innovation and striving to provide the very best service possible.
"Policing remains hugely underfunded and Bedfordshire Police provides the most profound example of this as a force with the most challenging and complex demands normally only faced by metropolitan forces such as the Met, West Midlands and the like, and yet the funding gap has still not been addressed. I recognise recent efforts by the current Home Secretary and Policing Minister to reverse a long standing lack of police investment however I would remind everyone that it is the first responsibility of government to protect its citizens, policing must be properly funded. The consequences of previous budgetary decisions are now being felt by all of our communities, this must be addressed.
"I have made great friends across all of our communities and I’m hugely grateful for the support from partners and the public and everyone in the force. Bedfordshire has a wonderful mix of cultures, it is county rich in difference and we enjoy the best of relationships between the force and those we are here to serve. I have made lifelong friends, and over the last five years the force has built the strongest of relationships with those we are here to protect.
"The officers and staff of Bedfordshire Police do a wonderful job on a daily basis and I’d like to thank each and every one of them for their support during my time here.
"I shall certainly be leaving with a heavy heart, but comforted by the knowledge that I’m leaving behind a super talented team who will continue to drive Bedfordshire Police forward."
Mr Boutcher will continue leading Operation Kenova, an historic investigation into a number of alleged murders, kidnaps and tortures in Northern Ireland.
His last working day with the force will be on 5 July, and Police & Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway will be responsible for appointing his successor.
Commissioner Holloway said: "It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to work shoulder-to-shoulder with the outstanding Jon Boutcher over the last three years. His values are part of the DNA of the force and he leaves a strong legacy.
"I believe he will be recognised as an exceptional chief in the history of Bedfordshire Police including his genuine focus on boosting diversity in recruitment.
"We enjoy what I believe is the strongest professional relationship of any Chief and PCC - we’ve stood together on funding and challenged criticism of the force. I know that whatever he’s doing, wherever he is in the world, he’ll continue to stand up publicly for Bedfordshire Police.
"He has provided exceptional leadership of the force, plus the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Joint Protective Services, and the regional response to organised crime and counter terrorism.
"He has established a culture within the force and a personal leadership style where the buck stops with him that I will be looking to when recruiting his replacement - a true leader linked to our communities and committed to community policing."
Thousands of school children across Bedfordshire are getting a dramatic reminder about the dangers of exploitation by criminal gangs thanks to a new theatre production in schools.
Alter Ego Creative Solutions is performing the play at schools across the county thanks to funding from Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway.
Titled 'County Lines', the production charts the risks children and young people face from criminal gangs, such as county lines drug dealing and other forms of criminal exploitation.
Performances started last month and have so far reached between 1,500 and 2,000 school children every week. Around 15,000 children are expected to see the play by the time the run finishes in May.
Each 40 minute show is followed by a workshop helping the students understand what a healthy relationship looks like, how the grooming process works and who to speak to for support.
Commissioner Holloway said: “We made sure that the theatre company worked with young people from Bedfordshire who’ve been caught up in knife carrying and gang membership themselves to make sure that it sounds as authentic as possible.
"There's no point whatever in softening the reality or the message will be lost and I’m perfectly prepared for complaints if those watching the production never forget it. This isn’t some sort of poor Theatre in Education production. It’s the closest we can get to the dangers presented by those running county lines and recruiting children to do their dirty work for them.
“Drugs are the driving force behind so much crime. From rival drugs gangs violently clashing over territory, burglars stealing to fund their addictions, or organised crime groups funding their criminal enterprises and exploitation – drugs underpin this criminality, which will not be tolerated in Bedfordshire.
“The fact that county lines drugs gangs are targeting children who aren’t even in their teens makes it all the more hideous. Hopefully by speaking directly to these children, Alter Ego can educate them about the reality of gang life and help them recognise how they might be subject to exploitation.”
Last week more than 100 people attended an information evening organised by Bedfordshire Police, The Seeds of Change and CYP First around the issue of county lines and the criminal exploitation of children.
Richard Denton, children and young people development officer at Bedfordshire Police, said: “We are very pleased to be working with Alter Ego, as theatre is such a powerful way to raise awareness around child criminal exploitation (CCE).
“We want to get the message across and warn young people of the dangers of how they can be targeted by organised groups and gangs to groom, trick, trap and manipulate them into trafficking drugs and sometimes weapons. We will have an officer at each production to answer any questions, as well as deal with any concerns pupils, parents or teachers may have.
“We know that county lines drug dealing is intertwined with other criminal activity such as serious violence, child sexual exploitation and modern slavery. That’s why it is so important we continue to raise awareness and educate people about these dangers.”
As well as performances for young students, Alter Ego also offers plays suitable for parents and professionals who work with children.
Lynne Goodwin, from Alter Ego Creative Solutions, added: “We have worked with other forces and are delighted to come to Bedfordshire to show our educational play, which is based around how these gang members are master manipulators.
“They start by offering young people money, drugs and making them feel important and part of something in a world where they’re feeling disenfranchised. They will make it appear their life is exciting and do whatever it takes to get young people to work for them, before they turn their lives upside down saying they owe them money and threaten violence and blackmail to make them deal drugs and move packages.
“They’ll do whatever it takes to keep them working for them. The youngsters are terrified, but trapped in a world they feel unable to get out of. For adult audiences, the play raises awareness of the warning signs of CCE and the coercive process young people may have been through that has resulted in them being criminally exploited – a process that can all too easily make it seem as though they have ‘made their own choices.’”
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway has celebrated the first anniversary of the Signpost service she promised would transform services for those affected by crime in the county - with virtually every client giving a clear vote of confidence in the service and a total of 33,941 actions by its specialist Victim Care Coordinators in its initial year.
The Commissioner has announced she is building on the success of Signpost this year by paying for new Domestic Violence Advisors, to work from within Signpost and out in the field with victims, one of whom will be a coordinator for the new Family Drug and Alcohol Courts being established in Luton, to work on a rehabilitation plan with parents with drug and alcohol issues in care proceedings to help them break free of addiction and keep families together.
She is also funding two mental health nurses to work in Signpost and support the Force Contact Centre in cases of mental health patients in crisis, who will also liaise with hospitals to drive down the time taken to hand over care of such patients and that lost to police officers from 999 duties in the process.
These new specialists will take the investment in Signpost by the PCC from £492,375 in 2018 to 2019 to £554,736 this financial year.
Signpost consists of a single online directory of services offering support for victims of different crime types - at signpostforbedfordshire.com - backed by a call centre hub of Victim Care Coordinators, operating six days a week, which was created by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner in partnership with Bedfordshire Police. The Signpost website also offers a translation service for those who do not speak English as a first language, supplies a definition of each key crime type and tells the visitor what will happen next if the crime is reported to Bedfordshire Police.
Commissioner Holloway said: “When Signpost launched on 1 April 2018, we were aiming to reach at least 9,000 residents who had been impacted by a crime, to offer additional support. Today I can announce that almost 34,000 actions to directly help victims have been delivered in its first year by the outstanding Signpost team.
“When I first arrived in this post, I was presented with just 24 separate items of feedback from those who’d used our previous, outsourced service, although clearly others had done so too. I just couldn’t see the proof of what was being offered to victims of crime and, even more importantly, what they themselves thought of the service they’d been given.
"Today the Signpost team actively seeks out feedback and it's been extraordinary, reflecting the absolute commitment of our Victim Care Coordinators to spread the word about what is still a very new service to potential users. Those qualifying for support don’t even have to have been the direct victim of a crime themselves, as children, parents, partners and colleagues can all be deeply impacted by a crime.
“What's really important to me is that 98 per cent say they’ve been satisfied or very satisfied with the service, 94 per cent tell us they got the information and wider support that they needed and 93 per cent say they feel Signpost had helped them to cope with the impact the crime had on their confidence, which I’m clearly delighted with.
“My favourite example was from a disabled gentleman who’d been targeted in a hate crime who told the Signpost team ‘You were there in my darkest hour and helped me turn things around and got me thinking positively - just brilliant’ which clearly speaks of the empathy and dedication of the team."
Those impacted by crime in Bedfordshire who were helped by Signpost were reached by its specialist workers in the following ways over the inaugural year of the service:
* Letters offering help were sent to 14,250 victims of crime
* Signpost staff made at least 200 calls a week to offer support following a crime (11,200 in a year)
* 5,041 referrals were made by Bedfordshire Police officers and staff
* 723 were referred by partner organisations such as local authorities
* 297 service users contacted Signpost directly
* 359 were referred by Signpost to other partners
* 1,845 received direct support from services to which Signpost referred them
* 106 were referred for Restorative Justice (the chance for a victim to confront the offender face to face in a safe setting or by letter)
* 120 victims were sent information about Restorative Justice possibilities
* 23 successful cases of Restorative Justice contact by victims were recorded
The Signpost call centre can be reached on a confidential free phone number 0800 0282 887. Those answering the phone are not police officers and there is no obligation for someone seeking help to have reported the crime to police, as the Police and Crime Commissioner has a legal duty to offer support services for this group of victims too. The Signpost Hub operates from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 5pm on Saturdays.
Representatives of organisations who work closely with the Signpost victim care team joined Commissioner Holloway, Signpost team members and management; and Superintendent Liz Mead for the first anniversary celebration on Tuesday (2 April), including representatives from the Prince’s Trust, Anne Frank Trust and Mary Seacole Housing Association.
Kimberley Lamb, Head of Victim Services and Early Intervention Lead at the Signpost Hub, said: “I am really proud of the first class support and care we’ve given victims during our first successful year in helping them cope and deal with the impact of crime. We aim to see this level of support continue next year, especially as we begin to work even closer with partner agencies in encouraging victims to come forward.”
Detective Superintendent Liz Mead added: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Signpost Hub, it’s so reassuring to know our victims get the swift support they need to help them recover from the trauma of crime. You don't need to be the victim of a crime to access the Signpost services. We understand that the impact of crime can we far reaching and offer support to witnesses, children, parents, partners and colleagues as they can all be deeply impacted by a crime.”
If you have been affected by crime the Signpost Hub offers free and confidential support to victims in Bedfordshire, whether it has been reported to police or not and irrespective of where and when the crime occurred. Contact 0800 0282887 or visit www.signpostforbedfordshire.com for further information.
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has launched a single online home of services and a specialist call centre to help support former offenders with the help they need to lead a life free from crime.
The new county-wide initiative called Direction and its website of support services for ex-offenders was launched by the Commissioner in Luton yesterday (Tuesday April 2 2019).
The call centre service will be run through the charity YouTurn Futures, which already has extensive experience of working with prolific ex-offenders for the OPCC and Bedfordshire Police. The Commissioner has funded a full time co-ordinator for Direction to ensure former offenders in the county have access to services and support to reduce the risk of re-offending, with a manager working with two call handlers with the responsibility to also connect partners who can assist the individual offender. The website was constructed with the help of former prisoners themselves, including those who have served lengthy ‘life’ terms, to advise on the language and nature of what should be included.
An agreement with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner means Direction is backed by the Department of Work and Pensions in an arrangement which puts a specialist in every one of the 13 Jobcentres in Bedfordshire and just over the border in Hertfordshire, offering employment and benefit advice to an ex-offender on the same day as his or her visit.
“What’s most important to me is to set up former offenders with the support they need to succeed, not to fail, on leaving HMP Bedford or other parts of the Criminal Justice system so it’s not just the same old revolving door back to prison. The problem with individual services working with ‘their’ service users in one area of need is that almost none of these ex-offenders has a single need; they need to have help to look at the whole picture, across housing, employment, drug and alcohol addictions, relationships with families and their own health and well-being, to stand a proper chance of going straight,” said Commissioner Holloway.
“That’s the whole premise of the Direction service as well as connecting all those organisations out there who can offer quality services to help and who may not know each other exist.
“The help of former prisoners, including lifers, has been immeasurably useful as it’s no good us deciding what should be online and how it should be offered, we needed to listen,” said the PCC.
Launching Direction on the first anniversary of the Signpost service to support victims of crime, which she set up on April 1 2018, the PCC has based the new support service for former offenders on the same model – an online directory of available services and a call centre team of specialists
“Just as Signpost provided a one-stop shop for victims, I’m now working with a number of our key partners to offer the same for ex-offenders who want to seek a new path,” said the Commissioner.
As part of the launch, she pressed a button to send the brand new Direction website live. It hosts a directory of all the key agencies and organisations in Bedfordshire that offer support and advice for ex-offenders, their families and friends. The website can now be accessed at: https://directionforbedfordshire.co.uk/.
Bedfordshire-based criminal justice charity YouTurn Futures is working in partnership with the Commissioner to deliver the scheme. Director Stuart Smith said: “Direction is an innovative approach to reducing reoffending across Bedfordshire. It provides a central hub for statutory, voluntary and community agencies to work together for an ex-offender and deliver a joined up approach in tackling the drivers of offending behaviour in order to reduce reoffending and make Bedfordshire a safer place.”
Direction Hub Lead, Neill Waring, added: “We want to help former offenders to find the right professional knowledge and networks for them, and can also help concerned parents, partners or friends to find support for their loved ones.”
The post funded by Commissioner Holloway is one of two co-ordinator posts, held by Jackie Gordon and Lauren Cox.
“In previous roles I would be frustrated that offenders may be in a place where they are ready for change but don’t have the tools to actually help them. Former offenders can lose hope if they are pulled from pillar to post by different services, I hope that through Direction we can make the right connections for more positive results,” Jackie commented.
The Direction service works with former offenders and partners including the Department for Work and Pensions, the national Probation Service and Community Rehabilitation Company, to support changes in behaviour and remove issues which influence re-offending. This support can range from assistance in finding accommodation, being supported through training and education and seeking employment opportunities.
Judge Patrick Perusko, who attended the launch event, commented: “A number of those involved in the family court have parents who are offenders, and often still in custody at the time they are going through proceedings. An initiative such as Direction, to support offenders on their release and getting involved in things like education, employment and reintegration to sustain family life is clearly something that any family judge is going to support.”
The website also provides a full directory of services for former offenders ranging from financial advice to drug and alcohol services.
“This is just the beginning as I will also be seeking options for proceeds of crime to be invested into the service via YouTurn Futures to build the services we can make available,” Commissioner Holloway stated.
The call centre staff at Direction can be accessed on 01582 721010.
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway has signed up to a regional procurement deal which could potentially save the force more than £1 million a year.
The partnership between Bedfordshire and the other six forces and PCCs in the region was signed on Friday (15 March) and will allow them to take advantage of bulk buying discounts – on everything from police vehicles to uniform and stationery.
Commissioner Holloway said: “Every shopper knows that the more you buy the more you can save if you look for good offers and that principle holds equally good for policing, whether we’re buying uniforms or patrol cars. While the seven forces of the East, including Bedfordshire, are very different in the crime challenges they face from the northernmost tip of Norfolk to the south of Kent, we still have to buy many of the same products.
“The real benefit of this absolutely ground-breaking deal is that it will focus on the greatest savings from the largest contracts. It also allows us to meet the requirements the Government has set as a condition by way of improving efficiencies before it looks again at the funding formula for all police forces in the next Spending Review at the end of 2020.
“This is of absolutely critical importance to Bedfordshire as the Policing Minister, Nick Hurd, has repeatedly promised that he will rebalance and correct the chronic underfunding of the Force, in relation to the severity and complexity of its crime challenges, in this critical review.”
The agreement is the first major announcement from the seven force collaboration which comprises Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk and Kent.
It is the latest funding boost secured by Commissioner Holloway and follows her announcement last week that the number of PCs in community policing across Bedfordshire will be doubled. The additional officers, which will include a new trouble shooting team to stamp out key crime issues, are among the 160 due to be recruited in 2019/20 after the PCC helped secure an increase of £2 per month on the council tax precept.
The PCC has also approved a longer term plan to recruit a further 120 PCs next year and between 110 and 120 in the year after that, in 2021-22.
The annual report of the Criminal Justice Alliance singled out the Bedfordshire Stop and Search Scrutiny Panel for the way it makes sure the Force is carrying out Stop and Search lawfully and in the most professional way possible. The Panel is led by Montell Neufville, Kimberley Lamb and Haleema Ali, experienced youth and victim support workers; with Panel members drawn from diverse backgrounds across the county, at events organised by Bedfordshire Police's Community Cohesion Team and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner. The Panel examines randomly dip-sampled footage from the body worn videos of Bedfordshire’s officers as they carry out Stop and Search and provides feedback directly to the officers and their line managers.
“This is a hugely important time for the way we do Stop and Search Scrutiny in Bedfordshire to be identified as among the very best practice in the country. We’ve seen the Government urge police to use their Stop and Search powers in order to try to drive down knife crime and forces in other areas of the country, such as West Midlands, have been using the enhanced version of Stop and Search powers (Section 60) at specific times and in hotspot areas to search everyone at a particular location, rather than requiring an officer to have an actual reason to suspect that the person who is to be searched is carrying a weapon - as is usually the case. It must be recognised that this, inevitably, can cause potential tensions in communities,” said PCC Holloway.
“The scrutiny offered by the Panel here in Bedfordshire, with members seeing and hearing for themselves exactly how and why an officer is searching a member of the public, is absolutely vital in my view to give members of our communities - and especially diverse communities who may not have had positive experiences of historic encounters with police - a real confidence that these powers are being used appropriately and that they are producing results.
“Equally, Bedfordshire Police officers understand that the criticism is constructive: the Panels aren't about 'police bashing’ but the public making genuine suggestions as to how and why a particular search might have been done differently and also sending back praise when an officer delivers the best possible encounter, in what are, let’s face it, potentially difficult and embarrassing circumstances for the person being searched.
“If we don’t want to create another generation which is disillusioned and distanced from police, destroying confidence and bonds of trust with communities that have been hard won, we have to get this right. Officers also have to have the confidence and backing to conduct Stop and Search wherever and whenever they believe an individual may be carrying a knife. Bedfordshire is said to be 11th in the country for knife crime, which indicates the level of knife carrying, and I truly believe all of us - Bedfordshire Police, me and my office team and, especially, the communities of Bedfordshire - don’t want to see a single child die, if a knife could be taken safely off the streets,” said Commissioner Holloway.
The Criminal Justice Alliance is a coalition of 150 organisations who are committed to improving the Criminal Justice system from policing to prisons and probation. Members include charities, service providers for offenders, research institutions and staff associations.
They singled out the Bedfordshire Stop and Search Scrutiny Panel for outstanding performance in the following areas:-
* Use of a red, amber, green grading for feedback to officers, delivered in face to face meetings with a Sergeant, concerning the Panel’s response to watching dip-sampled body worn videos of Stop and Search conducted by them
* The Panel’s explanation of its scrutiny - what it looks at, why and what feedback is given - via radio stations, sports centres, schools and colleges across Bedfordshire - to raise awareness of its work and encourage the widest possible representation among panel members
* The Panel’s training package for would-be members including the history of Stop and Search, case studies of those who have experienced such searches and reforms relating to the process
* Training of Bedfordshire Police officers, developed by the Panel Chair, including in unconscious bias and procedural justice
* Holding Panel meetings in various locations around the county to make them as accessible as possible to the public, including in youth centres
* Working closely with the Bedfordshire Police Community Cohesion Team who liaise with the Chair and Panel and oversee feedback to the Force
Bedfordshire Stop and Search Panel Chair, Montell Neufville, reacted to the national report saying: "We are aware that Bedfordshire Police officers listen and take the views of the panel seriously. This has led to great improvements, reduced community tensions and a better relationship in the fight against crime - which has been recognised in the CJA report.
"Stop and Search can be seen as a controversial power, getting it right is important and it's also important that there is confidence from the community that officers are using their powers fairly and appropriately. It is not down to politicians, the media or armchair critics to make a judgement on who a police officer should Stop and Search, nor should undue pressure be put onto officers to search people when it is not appropriate. There is no disagreement that a range of methods and powers should be used to take knives off our streets. However, Stop and Search can be used for a whole range of offences and this is perfectly legitimate too.
"We go to great lengths to ensure that the panel members appraising and feeding back to officers represent the diverse communities from our county, advising when they do well in addition to where there is room for improvement. We're finding that more and more appraisals of body warn videos are 'green', conducted exactly how they should be. It's clear to me that officers in Bedfordshire are becoming one of the leading forces in using the procedural justice approach when conducting their work."
Sgt Steve Mosley, who leads Bedfordshire Police’s Community Cohesion Team and personally gives feedback on the Panel’s findings face to face to individual officers, recognises the value of the Panel in building confidence in policing in communities and ensuring it is carried out in the most appropriate way.
He said: "In Bedfordshire we are fortunate to have strong positive relationships with our local communities and our Stop Search Scrutiny Panel is an example of the benefits that relationships like this have on the performance of our police force.
"Feedback delivered is a two-way dialogue between the community and officer involved and goes some way to assisting officers to understand the impact of policing activity within local communities. I can personally attest to the vast improvement I have seen in the quality of stops searches over recent years and there is no doubt that the work of the panel has vastly contributed to this effort."
“What's really important is that the feedback from the Panel is taken extremely seriously at Bedfordshire Police. I usually attend Panels and I've raised occasional issues that I’ve been unhappy with myself directly with the Chief Constable and his team. Equally I’ve made sure that those who are praised for exceptionally professional behaviour receive that positive feedback. I’m also delighted to say that, while the Panel members are robust in their scrutiny, it's rare for a video to be given the red rating which would immediately lead to investigation by line managers,” said the Commissioner.
Officers performing Stop and Search must follow a process known as GO WISELY - identifying the grounds for the search and the object they are looking for; they must supply a warrant card to identify themselves as a police officer if not in uniform; they must say who they are and which station they come from; they must offer an electronic copy of the record of the search and state the legal powers under which the search is being carried out and must say that the subject is being detained for the purpose of a Stop and Search.