Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner -  
01234 842208
PCC and former Chief Constable call on head of police watchdog to publish QCs findings after independent investigation
Media statement  from Kathryn Holloway, Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, with the backing of her former Chief Constable (to the end of July 2019), Jon Boutcher.

"Since raising a formal complaint concerning Bedfordshire’s Inspector of Constabularies, HMI Zoe Billingham, on 10 July 2017, I have waited for more than two years for HMICFRS, the organisation which judges legitimacy and ethical behaviour in policing, to finally respond publicly. The Chief Inspector of Constabularies, Sir Tom Winsor, has now published his interpretation of events, which I do not recognise. Sir Tom engaged one of the most experienced QCs in the country to lead a lengthy independent investigation into my complaint; Mr Tom Kark (the former lead counsel to the Mid Staffordshire Inquiry, who has practised as a barrister for approximately 37 years). Yet instead of publishing Mr Kark QC’s independent report, Sir Tom has chosen instead to publish his own findings. 

Bedfordshire Police's former Chief Constable, Mr Jon Boutcher, also raised a formal complaint with HMICFRS concerning HMI Billingham and we are now calling on Sir Tom Winsor to publish the executive findings of Mr Kark QC’s independent report concerning both of our complaints.

We do not accept that sending HMI Billingham - a senior public official required by her Terms of Engagement to observe the Nolan Principles at all times - on a management course, is an appropriate sanction by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector in response to our complaints.

Jon Boutcher and I will now be inviting the Home Affairs Select Committee to review this matter and to consider Sir Tom’s handling of our complaints in the light of all of the evidence, together with the worrying lack of a transparent Complaints process at HMICFRS.”
...Continue
PCC and Chief Constable joined by BGT stars Dave and Finn to welcome nearly 15,000 visitors to Family Fun Day

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, and Chief Constable, Garry Forsyth, were joined by Britain’s Got Talent finalists PC Dave Wardell and the police dog which saved his life, “Fabulous Finn” as they opened the Force’s 2019 Family Fun Day (Sunday 1 September 2019).

PC Wardell is still a serving member of the Dogs Unit which serves Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire, although Finn has now retired from police duties and still lives with PC Wardell and his family.

PC Wardell explained to the crowd that he had honed the magic act which took him and Finn to the BGT final with the show’s producers to draw attention to the campaign for “Finn’s Law” for tougher penalties for those who attack police service animals, which became law in June 2019, after Finn, who had already been stabbed by an escaping burglar, threw himself in front of him to save PC Wardell from a fatal blow. Two vets fought to save the life of the heroic dog.

“There’s no doubt at all that Finn risked his life to save me. He usually slept in a kennel but, when he came home, I made a bed up on the floor and slept beside him for four weeks. I’d been stabbed in the hand myself but the physical injuries were the least of it; he helped me get over the mental effects of the attack just as much as I helped him get over his physical injuries, “ PC Wardell told the crowd.

“People think I’ve become a millionaire through Britain’s Got Talent but I haven’t made a penny; it was always about drawing attention to Finn’s Law.”

PC Wardell confirmed that Finn had made a huge impact on BGT lead judge, Simon Cowell; a well know dog lover: “Simon Cowell has invited us to his home for dinner to meet Squiddly and Diddly, his own two dogs, and he also made a substantial

contribution to a German Shepherd charity as a result of us appearing on the show,” he said.

Chief Constable Garry Forsyth opened the 2019 Bedfordshire Police Family Fun Day which took place on the sports field where the police Dogs Unit also train, on Sunday. In brilliant sunshine, the Fun Day attracted 14,725 visitors this year. Chief Constable Garry Forsyth said: “The Family Fun Day was an amazing day and I want to express a huge thank you to everybody who contributed and everyone who came to support the event. It was great to see so many people enjoying themselves. “We were very fortunate to have the day opened by Britain’s Got Talent finalists PC Dave Wardell and Finn, the police dog that saved his life. There were so many stalls showcasing what policing is all about and getting people involved in the important work that we do, including impressive displays from the dog unit and an exciting landing from the police helicopter by our colleagues from NPAS. To top it off we raised a huge amount of money for our force charity Embrace CVOC supporting child victims of crime. “These events are so important for the force to build relationships with our local communities, we loved meeting you all and we hope to see you at next year’s event.”

PCC Kathryn Holloway, a former presenter with TV-am and Sky News, then interviewed PC Wardell and met Finn. “It was an absolute pleasure to meet Dave and Finn and to hear this quite remarkable story from the man himself. It sounds more like a feature film than real life and should be made into one in my view: a police dog who forms an incredible bond with his handler and goes on to save his life, despite receiving horrendous injuries in the process; the law seeing an attack on a police dog as “criminal damage” so a campaign is launched for tougher penalties which actually becomes law. The two of them going on to the final of Britain’s Got Talent without a dry eye in the house - certainly not mine - and also winning a Cruft’s Award for human friendship with dogs, this summer - you couldn’t make it up!

“No wonder Dave and Finn were such a draw that almost 15,000 people from families across Bedfordshire poured in to meet them and enjoy all the other attractions on such a fantastic day. What a way to end the school holidays.” she said.

On 5 October 2016, Finn was attacked with a 10” hunting knife by a burglar trying to escape as he was pursued. As a direct result, The Annual Welfare (Service Animals) Bill was published in parliament by Sir Oliver Heald MP and received its second reading in June. The legislation will remove a section of the current law of self defence, often used by those who harm a service animal, and aims to increase maximum sentences for such attacks to five years imprisonment.

Finn was stabbed in the head and received extensive stab wounds to his abdomen in the attack but is now enjoying his retirement with the Wardell family.

The Family Fun Day also included a visit from the National Police Air Service (NPAS) helicopter, displays by the Dogs Unit, a chance for families to try on uniforms and get into police vehicles to sound the sirens and set off blue lights, a visit from the motor cyclists of the Road Policing Unit and partners such as Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, face painting by members of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, fairground rides and food stalls, including a Caribbean Food Shack run by Reactive8, who support ex-offenders to reform, on both sides of the HMP Bedford prison doors, on behalf of the PCC.

“In my opinion, it was the best Fun Day so far and not just because of the weather; Dave and Finn really made the day for me and everyone who got to meet them,” said Commissioner Holloway.

...Continue
PCC welcomes Home Office investment to tackle serious violence across Bedfordshire
Bedfordshire Police & Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has vowed to ensure money assigned to a Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) will make a real difference in driving down gun, gang and knife crime across the county as a whole.
 
The Home Office confirmed this week (Monday) that Bedfordshire has been awarded £880,000 to set up the specialist unit to bring together different organisations including police, local government, health, community leaders and other key partners to tackle violent crime at its root cause, in a whole system approach. 
 
“Serious violence has been on the rise nationally and, sadly, this is no different in Bedfordshire which also faces the scourge of gang, gun and knife crime; where we have seen young people murdered and seriously injured on our streets, with a stabbing virtually every day.
“It is absolutely crucial that we have a genuine partner approach to tackle this issue in society and that everyone plays a part in steering young people away from becoming involved in such crime before it is too late," said Commissioner Holloway.
Bedfordshire is one of 18 forces across the country set to benefit from the £35m Government funding to tackle knife crime and serious youth violence through specialist violence reduction units.
 
The initial plans for the VERU were first announced in June and followed separate grants to the PCC of £4.571m to pay for the Force’s specialist gun, gang and knife team, Boson, allowing it to be doubled with a permanent unit in the north as well as the south of the county, and £1.38m for extra patrols, intelligence data-gathering and community projects.
 
T/Deputy Chief Constable Jackie Sebire, who is also the National Police Chiefs’ Council portfolio lead for serious violence, said: “The VERU will allow us to work much more closely with partners in a ‘public health’ approach to preventing gun and knife crime. I have said, time and time again, that this is not purely a police problem and that a joined up approach to address the root causes of serious violence is the only way to tackle this problem.

“It is fantastic that the additional funding has now been confirmed, which means we can drive forward with our plans for a Bedfordshire-wide approach to reducing violence. Every penny will make a difference, and we now have the incredibly important job of turning our plans into reality.”

Late last year, the Home Office agreed to award a £4.571m Special Grant to the PCC to cover the unprecedented costs of Bedfordshire Police’s Boson team in fighting gang violence and weapon supply over three years, including in 2018-19. Earlier this summer, the former Policing and Fire Minister, Nick Hurd, confirmed in writing to the Commissioner that the Home Office will pay for the cost of the Boson unit in the next financial year too, after she supplied details of the results of its investment.

“I was able to prove to the Home Office team that their money had been very wisely invested in Bedfordshire and produced real results, as the Boson units in the north and south of Bedfordshire had chalked up 148 years in prison terms in a year. But it's a truism that you can’t just arrest your way out of serious youth violence. There’s a much wider piece of work around winning hearts and minds through education, driving home the health messages around the dangers and working with local authorities and communities themselves to better safeguard children and intervene earlier to protect them when they are vulnerable to being lured into gangs and knife carrying,” said Commissioner Holloway.
“I’m delighted that the money for the VERU has now been rubber stamped, after the Home Office reviewed a detailed description of our bid, and it will allow this countywide, joined-up approach, which is the only way to tackle the escalation of violence that we've seen. While the Force will, of course, continue the hugely impressive work of its Boson unit to arrest and prosecute those involved in gun, gang and knife crime, the VERU will give us the opportunity to be much more proactive in preventing vulnerable young people being exploited and drawn into violence in the first place.

“It also demonstrates, yet again, that the Home Office accepts that Bedfordshire Police is not sufficiently well funded through its core Government grant to be able to respond to all the serious and complex crime challenges it faces.

“Our T/DCC, Jackie Sebire, has shown great leadership in helping us secure this funding and I’m committed to helping her ensure that it is put to good use in making Bedfordshire a safer place for us all."

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has involved members of the worst hit communities to advise it and the Force on projects which are felt likely to be most beneficial in preventing gang and knife crime. These include presentations in schools by emergency medicine specialist, David Kirby, from the Luton and Dunstable University Hospital and playing pupils the hard-hitting '24 Hours in Police Custody’ episode ‘Knifed’ showing a machete fight and double stabbing in The Mall, Luton, and the murder of 18-year-old Azaan ‘AJ' Kaleem in a knife attack in the town.
The VERU bid will span the entire county and involve Bedford Borough Council, Luton Council and Central Bedfordshire Council.
 
The confirmation of the funding has been welcomed by all three local authorities in Bedfordshire.

Chief Executive of Luton Council, Robin Porter  said:  "This funding is excellent news for Bedfordshire.

"It will ensure the vital work to tackle crime both in Luton and across the county can continue, and can make a real difference.

"Tackling serious violence needs a partnership approach and as a local authority we have a vital role to play.

"Eradicating poverty and improving the life chances of our residents is a key priority for Luton Council.

"We want to understand the root causes of violence and collaborate on prevention, early intervention and support to make lasting change which will ultimately save lives.

"If we can work together with our partners to drive vulnerable people away from poverty, we can make a real and long-lasting difference to them, their families and our communities."

Cllr Colleen Atkins, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety at Bedford Borough Council, said: “We are committed to working in partnership with police and key partners and this funding allocation will go some way to helping Bedfordshire Police in ongoing efforts to tackle the serious issue of violent crime."

Councillor Ian Dalgarno, Central Bedfordshire Council’s Executive Member for Community Services, said: “This is great news, we welcome this funding and hope it will help make a real difference to our communities.”

 
...Continue
The PCC welcomes Garry Forsyth into his new role as the Chief Constable for Bedfordshire Police

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has warmly welcomed her newly appointed Chief Constable, Garry Forsyth, into his new role this week.

Commissioner Holloway said “I’m absolutely delighted to be working even more closely with my new Chief Constable, Garry Forsyth.

“People should be reassured that we haven’t let the ball drop for a moment: we’ve been in touch with the new Prime Minister, Home Secretary and Policing Minister to make Bedfordshire Police’s bid as early as possible for a fair share of the new uplift of 20,000 officers that’s been promised nationally. Our voices are being heard as one concerning the need for Policing to have two entry routes for new Constables moving forward - both a degree programme, which the College of Policing is insisting on, and a non-degree route - not least as we cannot allow this to become a bottle neck, holding up the uplift in our front line.”

Chief Constable Garry Forsyth added “I am honoured to have the opportunity to build on the legacy of my predecessor Jon Boutcher and the Commissioner Kathryn Holloway. Having been part of the senior leadership of the force over the last two years I am very much looking forward to evolving the force to an even stronger position working with our excellent staff, communities and partners.

“Unsurprisingly at the top of my priorities will be continuing to ensure that we have the right level of funding for Bedfordshire so we can provide the services the public want and deserve, and that our officers and staff want to deliver.

“While it will not deliver all of the resource we know we need, I am encouraged by recent announcements of investment, but there will be lots of work to be done with many partners if the effect of this investment is to be properly felt by the public. We will need the infrastructure development and support of other public sector agencies and the whole criminal justice system in order to make the difference that I know the public want to see, but after spending the last nine years as a chief officer making savings from police budgets the difficulties of significantly growing our workforce are finally a nice problem to have.

“I have seen at first hand the benefits that can be achieved with the strong support of a determined PCC and this has been key to securing additional funding for the force and transforming how the force is perceived across the country. I very much look forward to continuing in this vein and I am excited at the start of my tenure for the future of our force and the county of Bedfordshire,” said the Chief Constable.

Both the PCC and Chief Constable Forsyth have been quick to launch their new working partnership side by side at various events this week.

"We have been out and about together, most recently last Sunday (28 July), at the annual Care of Police Survivors (COPS) Memorial Day for those who have lost their lives in police service. I don’t know who was more pleased that we didn’t have to weather the storms on a bicycle as one of Bedfordshire Police’s fantastic 18 commemorative cyclists who rode as part of the Unity Tour, which opens this event, all the way from our county to the National Memorial Arboretum in Burton on Trent!” said Commissioner Holloway.

“Garry and I get on incredibly well; we’ve proved that we are a strong working partnership over the past two years, while Garry has been the Deputy Chief Constable, and I’m completely certain that he is the right person in the right job to take Bedfordshire Police into an ever brighter future in the service of the public in this county.”

...Continue
PCC welcomes national police uplift "with the potential to transform the service in Bedfordshire"

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has warmly welcomed the announcement by the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and Home Secretary, Priti Patel, that 20,000 new police posts are to be created, saying that her uniquely exposed and under-resourced police force could be transformed by the promised uplift.

 

Commissioner Holloway provided evidence to the Home Office in a Demand and Funding Analysis Report in October 2017, supplying the proof that Bedfordshire Police needed a further 300 Police Constables and 80 detectives to begin to reach the level of forces facing similar challenges, even at the general resource levels depleted since 2010.

 

In the interim, she has been able to use her budget to create a further 60 Police Constable posts, assisted by a combination of savings – through examining every officer, member of staff and expenditure across the Force –  and as the result of a Special Grant of £4.571m from Government last December due to the unprecedented rise in demand from Serious Youth Violence; gang, gun and knife crime issues.  The Commissioner now maintains that, on top of the 240 remaining shortfall of Police Constables and 80 detectives that were required in 2017, demand proves that a further 200 Police Constables would be needed to allow Bedfordshire Police to deliver crime prevention, as Boris Johnson and his team require, as well as responding to crime.

 

“This uplift is the largest single increase in Police Constables that has been promised at one time in policing history and, of course, it’s hugely welcome as it shows that law and order is now topping the agenda of the new Government. Where Bedfordshire Police is concerned, it quite simply has the potential to transform police service to the public, depending of course on the number of Police Constables which is allocated to us.

 

“It’s quite clear that the new Home Secretary, Priti Patel, and Policing Minister, Kit Malthouse, want this uplift to allow Policing as a whole to not only deal with crime reactively but to get ahead of the curve and deal with it proactively, through meaningful crime prevention work. To do that you have to have the numbers; that’s a matter of common sense.

 

“Bedfordshire Police is now recognised as genuinely unique by the Home Office - and the Special Grant for last year, which has been promised to me again in writing for this year - is absolute proof that the message, and evidence, have landed there to prove that the Force does not currently have the resources to respond to all the crime we have here; which includes the third highest terror risk in the country, county lines drugs and weapons dealing from our county to London - not simply into it from the capital - plus the gang and knife issues that come with that crime type and all the crime challenges that are associated with an international airport - in Luton – and the main road and rail network which passes through Bedfordshire.

 

“That is why I will be making a case to the new National Policing Board that, in order to get upstream of such crime and prevent it in the first place, we need a further 200 officers on top of the 240 and 80 detectives which we have already proved we need. That is what would genuinely transform police service in this county,” said PCC Holloway.

 

She also discounted the suggestions in national headlines that a lack of lockers would prevent the uplift from being able to be delivered and addressed other logistical challenges, including training facilities, supervisors and station space.

 

“I would prefer by far, as would my Chief Constable, to be dealing with the challenges of expanding a police force quickly, rather than those involved in contracting it; so, where all what Boris would call “gloomsters” are concerned, I would like to confirm that I will pay for lockers to get desperately needed officers into this county.

 

“Bedfordshire delivers its training with two neighbouring forces - Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire - which means that we have three times the capacity to make changes to recruitment and, although nobody is saying this will not be a challenge, my message to the Prime Minister’s team and to the new Home Secretary and Policing Minister is this: if you let us have the officers we need, I will make sure that we make it work and work quickly,” said Commissioner Holloway.

 

She pointed to one aspect of national police planning which she suggests is a genuine blocker across the country, however; the plan of the College of Policing to insist that all police officers have a degree and that new PCs will have to spend considerably more time in the classroom than under the current training system, over a three year period, to qualify for one, from 2021.

 

“We simply can’t allow this programme – whatever your viewpoint on whether it is even necessary for every single officer to have a degree – to de-rail the greatest uplift in police numbers ever to re-fill the void which has opened up since 2010.

 

“This so called Policing Educational Qualifications Framework – PEQF – has to be abandoned now as the sole route into the service for new PCs from 2021. Just putting it back by another year, which is one proposal, won’t be good enough. We need both a degree programme and a non-degree training route.

 

“My public and our officers and staff need new colleagues as soon as is conceivably possible: they need officers with a sense of vocation more than a single qualification and I am already in touch with the Prime Minister’s team to make sure that they receive them. I also look forward to discussing this with the new Policing Minister, Kit Malthouse, when he visits Bedfordshire, which is one of the first arrangements made by his office since taking up the job,” she said.

 

Kit Malthouse is now to visit Bedfordshire Police in September.

...Continue
PCC creates Breathing Space Relaxation Room at HQ to help boost the wellbeing of officers and staff with the help of local businesses

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has created a dedicated relaxation space at Police HQ to help officers, staff and call handlers take a few minutes out after particularly traumatic events, as part of her bid to boost wellbeing in the Force.


The PCC has refurbished the old rest area on the ground floor at Bedfordshire Police Headquarters (HQ) in Kempston, which has now been renamed The Breathing Space. The refurbishment was delivered after an initial request to the PCC from the Force Control Room team and she designed and equipped it from scratch. 


“Across the corporate world where I used to work, improving working conditions for staff especially in communal areas and providing them with a space for a few moments’ respite if their job is stressful, is seen as a hugely important factor in relation to morale and even in helping to improve the physical and mental health of the workforce. 


"This is most definitely not a waste of money but a modest and well deserved investment in our officers and staff and I was entirely clear that this is part of my duty of care to all of them even before the publication of this month’s Front Line Review urging forces to take wellbeing more seriously”, said Commissioner Holloway.


The quiet and welcoming space allows staff to gather their thoughts during or after a long or particularly difficult shift, in comfortable surroundings. It has been furnished to create a calming ambience with appropriate furniture, pictures, plants and soft lighting.


Bedfordshire Police's Wellbeing Co-Ordinator, Andrea Breitenbach said “The Breathing Space room looks amazing and we have our PCC to thank for that. It will provide our workforce with a quiet space that can be used when some time out is needed. This may be as a result of dealing with a traumatic incident or just for someone needing a bit of time to collect their thoughts or practice some Mindfulness.


“As part of the Force's Wellbeing Agenda, further break out areas are being modernised, and I look forward to working closely with the PCC’s office to improve the wellbeing provisions for our staff.”


Commissioner Holloway said how grateful she is to local stores who have helped her to create the ‘Breathing Space’ with free goods or substantial discounts.

“I would like to single out the fantastic management team at Bedford’s Dunelm Mill and Homesense stores for their help with the chairs, lighting, pictures and other accessories and to the team at Gibbs and Dandy in Dallow Road, Luton for discounting paint and decorating materials. Without them this would not have worked out as it has."

The PCC is delivering a refurbishment programme across the most run down communal areas of the police estate and has already overseen the overhaul of the HQ reception area and Signpost Victim Support Hub - a call centre in the former control room also housing the Hate Crime team, plus a rest space and kitchen at Dunstable Police Station for enquiries office staff, this year. Decoration of Luton Police Station has started on the ground floor.


“I was a bit down-hearted when one of the Custody staff in Luton told me he thought it was being decorated to look good for the cameras of the C4 series ‘24 Hours in Police Custody’ when, in fact, this is all part of a genuine attempt to improve working conditions for officers and staff. I told him he was a cynic and that you can’t please all of the people all of the time!,” joked Commissioner Holloway.

“I would be absolutely delighted to hear from other store holders who might be able to help with furniture, lighting, pictures and kitchen equipment as I move onto the shared kitchens at Luton and as I aim to create another Breathing Space there and I will most certainly give them credit for any help.

“I have promised the officers and staff that I will take this refurbishment as far and as quickly as I possibly can as part of my promise to them in relation to looking after our people which is set out in my Police and Crime Plan as I take this investment in them very seriously indeed,” she said.


“I’m absolutely delighted to say that officers and staff have stopped me in the corridors and told me how much they appreciate it and they’ve confirmed that the Breathing Space is now in regular use."

...Continue
PCC welcomes new Chief Constable of Bedfordshire in Attestation ceremony at Wrest Park

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has welcomed her newly appointed Chief Constable, Garry Forsyth, in a formal ceremony to swear him into the role at Wrest Park, Silsoe (2 July 2019) as he prepares to take over from former Chief, Jon Boutcher, at the end of the month (from 31 July 2019).

 

Mr Forsyth, the former Deputy Chief Constable of Bedfordshire for the past 22 months, delivered an oath as part of the Attestation ceremony in front of colleagues, partners of the Force including from local councils, community and voluntary groups and family members.

 

The ceremony was witnessed by outgoing Chief Constable, Jon Boutcher, and Bedfordshire’s Family Drug and Alcohol Court judge, Judge Patrick Perusko.

 

“I am absolutely delighted to welcome Garry Forsyth as the new Chief Constable of Bedfordshire and I am certain that he is the right person to continue to take the Force on its trajectory of continuous improvement,” said Commissioner Holloway.

 

“I was determined to offer his predecessor, Chief Constable Jon Boutcher, every possible support and have done so in winning a Special Grant from the Home Office of £4.571m plus confirmation from the Policing Minister, Nick Hurd, that this funding to cover the cost of fighting gun, gang and knife issues will be repeated in the next financial year. I have supported him in challenging a poor grading of Bedfordshire Police by the police watchdog, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), when the Force was not an outlier among other forces for either victim satisfaction or crime recording at the time. We have presented together, shoulder to shoulder, in front of the inspectorate’s Policing Performance Oversight Group (PPOG) which applies exceptional scrutiny to a small group of forces. We have now been released from that process. Now I am wholly on side with Jon to oppose the impact of reduced numbers on police front lines which the College of Policing’s new mandatory degree programme would produce and this support will continue beyond his term as Chief Constable of Bedfordshire.

 

“As Chief Constable, Garry Forsyth, has my absolute assurance that he will be given precisely the same level of continuous support from me in his own role and efforts to continue the very notable progress of Bedfordshire Police. 

 

“I am delighted to say that we have already worked very closely together over the past 18 months to agree a doubling of Police Constables in the Community Hubs around Bedfordshire, including a Sergeant and nine PCs who will be a trouble shooting task force to flex around the county to apply particular pressure to crack down on pernicious problems arising at neighbourhood level in future and that recruitment to fill these posts is currently underway. 

 

“Bedfordshire Police will have 67 PCs in the Hubs, north and south, 15 at London Luton Airport, six in the Rural Crime team - Op Sentinel Rural - and nine in the special intervention team. In addition to this, there will be six Inspectors, 19 Sergeants and 44 PCSOs,” said PCC Holloway.

 

The new Chief Constable, from August 2019, Garry Forsyth, said:  "I was hugely privileged and proud to be sworn in as Chief with colleagues, partners, communities and of course my family in the room. Everybody in that room has had a huge influence on the continued success and improvement of the force, and they will continue to have this under my leadership.

 

"Having worked here for nearly two years now, I can say with great confidence that Bedfordshire is an amazing force with incredible officers and staff, and it has made huge strides over the last few years with Jon Boutcher’s leadership and the Commissioner's support. I am excited to continue the improvements and work shoulder-to-shoulder with Commissioner Holloway to firstly secure the right level of funding for the challenges we face, and then to provide the very best policing service we can across Bedfordshire.

 

"I am delighted that the Commissioner shares my passion and commitment for increasing and improving our policing footprint in local communities. One of my main ambitions will be to ensure that we add Neighbourhood Policing to the growing list of things that people come to Bedfordshire Police to see as an exemplar of good practice."  

 

The Attestation Ceremony was accompanied by the presentation of a silver sceptre, inscribed with the names of past Chief Constables of Bedfordshire, by outgoing Chief, Jon Boutcher, who joked that it was now so full that Garry Forsyth will have to have a new one made, to which Garry responded: "I think if we do it in tiny letters we can fit at least one more on."

 
...Continue
PCC launches new support service for those in mental health crisis at event to celebrate the women "who make Bedfordshire better" and raise money for the Luton hospital helipad
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway launched two high profile initiatives and led a celebration of the county’s inspirational women, at an event held at Wrest Park, Silsoe, on Tuesday (2 July).

The Commissioner launched her charity of the year - the £1.5m appeal to complete a much needed helipad at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital, where vital time and precious lives will be saved if air ambulances can bring patients to the site, and take them straight down to the trauma centre, rather than relying on ambulance transfers from a nearby playing field.

Commissioner Holloway said: "The Luton and Dunstable team has had such an impact on me with its plans for the proposed helipad, directly above the department and its operating theatres, neo natal and cardiac units, which would serve the county as a whole, that I’m completely convinced that it would help to save young lives. 

“They only need the last £1.5m of what is now a £7m appeal, which is why I'd like to get them over the line and for funds from any joint-working to go to the appeal.

“That’s precisely why I’m making it my charity for the remainder of my term in office, and will be collecting at all our events on its behalf from now on.”

Consultant surgeon David Kirby, Operational Medical Director of the Luton and Dunstable Hospital, an emergency medicine specialist and a guest speaker at the event told the audience that he is seeing more and more victims of knife injuries, saying: “I'm sick and tired of having to dealing with young stab victims and it’s time to step up with the PCC to educate young people about the real consequences of knife carrying as being a victim is not a badge of honour. It leaves a trail of devastation for families left behind."

Among the winners at Bedfordshire Women’s Community Safety Awards was Roseann Taylor, the mother of Azaan Kaleem who lost his life as a victim of knife crime in Luton on 22 March 2018. She took home the coveted Woman of the Year Award. Mr Kirby was the consultant on duty on that day, but was unable to save the 18-year-old.

Mr Kirby said: “Had Azaan got to us sooner, we would undoubtedly have been able to save him.  A helipad will allow air ambulances to get victims to us as quickly as possible and for us to give them the very best chance of survival.”

The second initiative announced by PCC Holloway at the awards ceremony was the Mental Health Hub (MHH); an exciting new venture, jointly funded by the Commissioner and East London Foundation Trust (ELFT), which brings together mental health professionals and police colleagues in response to those experiencing a mental health crisis.

The Mental Health Hub has three core aspects:

- A mental health nurse within Bedfordshire's Force Contact Centre (the control room) to deal directly with callers who are in crisis and provide support plus tactical advice to police officers, as well as coaching and guidance for all call handlers in the management of mental health related callers.

- A mental health nurse within the Signpost Victim Support Hub, to also deal directly with callers with mental health issues and offer support and guidance to colleagues dealing with those affected by crime who are in crisis.

- Serenity Integrated Mentoring (SIM) providing nominated officers and mental health workers for the most frequent users of emergency services, often as a result of high risk mental health related issues that may result in a service user being sectioned

“In practise, SIM means every one of the most frequent callers to police and other blue light services and users of those services will have a dedicated police officer and mental health worker, thanks to the agreement with the health service provider ELFT. Not only will this lead to a far better pathway to care for the individual service users but, with this support, SIM can drastically reduce crisis calls and other high risk events, including police deployments, ambulance call outs, A&E attendances and mental health bed admissions, with all the associated costs - both actual to the services and emotional to the person in crisis,” said the PCC.
 
“I’m always determined to make sure that those who use a service help to design it and this has been no different with those who’ve actually been sectioned repeatedly when in crisis, helping us to create SIM from scratch,” she said.

Superintendent Jaki Whittred, Bedfordshire Police's lead for mental health, said: “Although the SIM model has been operating within other forces, we believe that by aligning it with placement of the mental health nurses, this is an opportunity for a truly integrated response, with the key aim of early detection, prevention of mental health crisis, reduction in use of police time when dealing with MH related calls, and improving the experience for the service user.”
 
The Commissioner then announced the awards, created and funded by her office and delivered in partnership with the Bedfordshire Women’s Network to commemorate and create opportunities for women in the county who promote community safety and victim support and celebrate them through the hosting of an event with the network which helps advise the OPCC, Policing and public services. 

“This event ran for the first time last year and I’d arranged it to not only pay tribute to all those incredible women working in our county but to mark the centenary of votes for women. In fact, we received over 7,000 pages of nominations which was a wake-up call to me that no such regular event to recognise their work existed. The OPCC now intends to make this an annual event,” said PCC Holloway.

Eight awards were handed out, voted for by the officers and staff of Bedfordshire Police.
  • Volunteer of the Year – awarded to Delphi Ellis for giving her time to the voluntary sector to support, empower and help women cope and recover. She raises awareness of projects to support women.
  • Education Specialist of the Year – awarded to Cat Magee for implementing safeguarding measures into Lincroft Academy as it changed from a Middle to a Secondary school and introducing a computer based programme that enabled a full picture of all safeguarding and well-being issues the school population faced and allowed Senior management to effectively plan as they developed into the Secondary status.
  • Offender Rehabilitation Award – awarded to Michelle Crook for her commitment and support of ex-offenders and helping to reengage them back into society, employment and training.  She has worked with more than 500 ex-offenders in the past 12 months.
  • Community Group / Individual Award – awarded to Rumi Chowdhury – for her 25 years’ work at Luton Rights, the past ten of those as centre manager. She helps those in need and the vulnerable to access the information they need and runs an advice surgery at CYCD to help older, vulnerable adults.  She also trains and develops volunteers.
  • Blue Light Award – awarded to Caroline Goates for her dedicated work for the Fire Service in creating a network of blue light services in the county and beyond. Caroline is the “go to” person for the fire and rescue service.
  • Lifetime Achievement Award – awarded to Fiona Chapman MBE for her many years of service to Bedfordshire. She was High Sheriff of Bedfordshire in 2001 and was awarded an MBE in 2002 for her services to local politics. She was also the Deputy Lieutenant of Bedfordshire in 2003. She has worked with both the police and fire authorities and chaired the Police and Crime Panel for its first five years. In addition, she found time to work selflessly for charity, for the church, and as a school governor.
  • Police Officer or Police Staff Award – awarded to Detective Constable Catherine Layton for her consistent, positive vision of detectives in the “24 Hours in Police Custody” programmes and for inspiring many women to consider policing as a career. She has also provided excellent service to victims of crime during her many years of exemplary service.
  • Woman of the Year Award – awarded to Roseann Taylor - Roseann’s only son, Azaan Kaleem, was murdered in Luton in March 2018 and since that time Roseann has worked tirelessly to educate and campaign against knife crime and the consequences of carrying a knife, working with young people at risk of exploitation from gangs. She has appeared on television and has participated in meetings with senior police and politicians. Roseann is currently working through a restorative justice process with one of the men jailed for her son’s murder.
A special award was also given to the team behind the Mental Health Hub for its work in bringing the idea to life.

Contributions to the Luton and Dunstable Hospital Helipad Appeal can be made at 
justgiving.com/fundraising/ldhhelipad

The Women’s Network is a group devoted to improving the working and living environment of women across Bedfordshire Police and our wider partnership of professional across Bedfordshire.

 
...Continue
Police and Crime Commissioner welcomes Government pledge of a second grant to pay for forces Guns and Gangs team after it chalked up 148 years in sentences

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has secured a second promise of funding from Government in another Special Grant to pay for the work of Bedfordshire Police’s specialist guns and gangs team – Boson – working to combat serious violence across the county.

 

Policing Minister, Nick Hurd MP, wrote to PCC Holloway to promise: “We intend to make decisions on Special Grant applications around October 2019 but in the interim I can provide you with the assurance that we will be providing funding for Operation Boson.”

 

He was replying to the PCC after she provided him with a portfolio detailing the exceptional work of the Boson units, which resulted in 148 years in prison terms for gang members and those using guns and knives over the last year.

 

Last December, Commissioner Holloway secured a Special Grant of £4.571m to pay for the work of the Boson team over the past three years in fighting an unprecedented rise in gang, gun and knife crime. As a result, Bedfordshire Police was able to create a second specialist Boson team in the north of the county as, originally, the unit was based only in Luton.

 

“It’s no good simply holding out a hand to ask for more cash without proving that it was a wise investment for the Minister and Home Office to make. Here in Bedfordshire, I’ve been able to list case after case of Boson bringing gang members to court and achieving win after win in terms of jail sentences.

 

“Now, to assist with my financial planning, the Minister isn’t asking me to wait until October, when most Special Grant bids will be considered; he’s seen the proof for himself of the difference the last grant made and is helping me to help Bedfordshire Police continue to deliver on the outstanding results so far,” said the PCC.

 

“I’m absolutely delighted to have assurance from the Home Office that the Boson team will again receive extra funding for 2019/20. It’s been well publicised that Bedfordshire has seen an increase in knife crime and we’ve seen the tragic waste of young lives in both Luton and Bedford in the past year. I’ve also sent the Minister details of these terrible events so that it’s not just a case of considering statistics but the real human cost of these crimes.

 

“Tackling knife crime and serious youth violence is, of course, a huge challenge, but the Force continues to rise to it. In 2018, Boson achieved a total of 148 years in prison sentences for offenders – and it’s important we put those causing the highest harm to our communities behind bars - but preventative work with our young people is also vital. I have also funded genuinely hard-hitting theatre performances in schools across Bedfordshire, delivering key messages to pupils aged 11 and concerning the dangers of being dragged into county lines drug dealing which is so often associated with stabbings or gun crime. This year, we will deliver the same sort of no holds barred production specifically concerning knife crime as I’ve seen and heard the impact these performances made on pupils for myself,” she said.

 

The PCC intends that her Special Grant bid will not be limited to prosecution of gang members who use weapons alone, given the associated challenge of sexual exploitation that so often accompanies gang membership and grooming.

 

“It’s my intention to also request funding for Bedfordshire Police’s key child sexual exploitation operations – both current and historic – and some preventative funding too, to fund various anti-gang initiatives. These issues are high risk, represent a high demand on police and have a huge impact on families and communities. To ensure we can continue to tackle them properly, we need significant investment,” said Commissioner Holloway.

 

Boson is Bedfordshire Police’s unit dedicated to tackling gun and gang activity and serious youth violence which was first formed in 2012 to tackle escalating violence in the Marsh Farm and Lewsey Farm areas of Luton.

 

Now the units deal with gang, gun and serious youth violence related issues across the whole county, having launched a team to focus on the north of Bedfordshire at the beginning of 2019. The team was intended, initially, to run for three months, but is now permanent thanks to the Special Grant of £4.571m from the Home Office.

 

The annual cost from the Boson units alone is £2m and associated sexual exploitation cases have cost a further £1m to police.

 

“While the bid for work we are already having to do to deal with all this criminality is likely to be approximately £3m, if we were funded to take key preventative actions, especially including the child sexual exploitation work, I’m advised that we would need up to £1.5m on top of that and, believe me, my Chief Finance Officer and I will be presenting all the evidence to back the whole claim to the Home Office this autumn.

 

“Any way you look at it though, this is very good news indeed for Bedfordshire Police,” said the PCC.

...Continue
PCC pledges to help parents to be and children before they are 10 to avoid knife and gang crime with new service

Bedfordshire's Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway pledged to create a new service to reach children in crime hotspots before they are even born - and in schools before they are 10 - to avoid knife and gang crime, reaching out to older children with the help of doctors, at the launch of a public report into her third year in post, held at the University of Bedfordshire’s Bedford Campus (on Monday 20 May).

 

Commissioner Holloway announced that she is to develop the Early Pathways service which, like those she created to help victims and ex offenders to access all the relevant support services in the county - Signpost and Direction - will also create an online directory of all quality activities and services in the county to divert kids away from crime to help parents, teachers, youth workers and children themselves, who will be involved in its design. She will also be starting work in schools with local hospitals to reach older children.

"I am going to work with the quite outstanding Operational Medical Director of Luton and Dunstable Hospital, David Kirby, and Bedfordshire Police to give presentations to children concerning the reality of knife carrying, which he sees at first hand since David and his colleagues find themselves working quite literally at the sharp edge of this terrible problem in the A&E Department, trying to save young people with stab wounds,” said the PCC.

"I've also informally proposed development of services with the hospital to help parents to be in crime hotspots, during pregnancy, paid for by the OPCC and partners, which I hope will assist the hospital’s helipad fund and want to brainstorm the ways in which we could deliver this so that we help parents secure a better future for their children, not patronise them.

"I’m absolutely indebted to the Luton and Dunstable Hospital and the attitude of its Medical Director and senior team for their openness to work with me and the Force to do all that we can to prevent children from ending up in A&E with life-threatening - and sometimes life-ending - injuries.

Late last summer, at a community meeting organised by the Youth Offending Service, residents told me that they thought this would be something that could make a difference and this is the chance to take this forward and develop a full service for children and families.

 

Bedfordshire Police - through the work of ACC Jackie Sebire, the national police lead and the ongoing work of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, with the Policing Minister and Serious Violence team at the Home Office, has just won the opportunity of £1.38m from the Home Office to deal with serious violence.

 

“I see this as the perfect time for us to use a portion of the funds otherwise dedicated to policing enforcement and intelligence gathering - which are Jackie’s areas of responsibility - to arrange training sessions, ideally backed by a hard-hitting theatre production by Alter Ego, the incredible actors who’ve been touring our schools for me to show those who are 11 and over the dangers of being entrapped in county lines drug dealing.  This time we need to reach younger children too as we’re getting to our young people too late with these messages,” said the Commissioner.

 

"The Luton and Dunstable team has also had such an impact on me with their plans for the proposed helipad, directly above the department and its operating theatres which would serve the county as a whole, that I’m completely convinced that it would help to save young lives. They only need the last £1.5m of what is now a £7m appeal, which is why I'd like to get them over the line and for funds from any joint-working to go to the appeal. I have also made it my charity for my term and will be collecting at all our events on its behalf from now on, said Commissioner Holloway.

 

Speaking to an audience of guests including Community Safety Partnership members, the Chief Officer of Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, councillors and residents, the Commissioner also spoke of progress made over the past twelve months with Bedfordshire Police against her Police and Crime Plan for the county.

Two particular areas she noted were the doubling of PCs in Communities, as part of a three year recruitment of up to 400 officers - 160 of them this year, of whom 60 will be extra posts - and the launch this month of
Direction to help ex offenders source the services they need to lead a life away from crime. The Direction service consists of an online directory - directionforbedfordshire.co.uk -  and a freephone call line of specialist helpers on 0800 917 5579 with support for former offenders including help with housing, accommodation, work and benefits, rebuilding family relationships, drug and alcohol dependency and building better health.

Commissioner Holloway and Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire, the national policing lead on Serious Violence, also outlined the plan that will be put by the PCC, with the ACC’s advice, to the Home Office this week to secure an opportunity for £1.38m from the Home Office. The plan includes knife wands first proposed by the PCC to the Force for officers engaged in Stop and Search; to minimise impact on young people who are searched to maintain confidence in police and to prevent injury to officers from knives or contaminated hypodermic needles, during the process. 

ACC Sebire said: “Our operational priorities across the county for the year ahead reflect our determination to clamp down on serious youth violence by suppression of criminal activity, with targeted patrols and the proactive targeting of identified areas and people, through carefully harvested intelligence and investigation.

“We will use equipment and technology, such as wands to detect knives when searching a suspect. This will allow us to find weapons faster and will further protect those officers who may otherwise have come into contact with a sharp object, such as a blade or a hypodermic syringe, during the course of their duties.”

Commissioner Holloway also outlined the on-going health-screening collaboration with the University of Bedfordshire which will see the first ever report on the health of an entire UK police force.

The Commissioner explained: “The University has a world class reputation for its Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, why would we not want to make best use of that?  The students are in great of need work-related experience and by offering a top-to-toe health screening to every officer and staff member, worth around £200 per person, this will allow us to gather information about the holistic health of the Force. A UK first.”

Contributions to the Luton and Dunstable Hospital Helipad Appeal can be made at 
justgiving.com/fundraising/ldhhelipad


A copy of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Third Year Report is available to download here.

...Continue
Bedfordshire Police DCC picked for new Chief role by PCC after open process watched live by public

Bedfordshire’s Deputy Chief Constable, Garry Forsyth, has been chosen as the candidate to become the county’s next Chief Constable by PCC Kathryn Holloway after one of the most testing and transparent selection processes in policing - subject to confirmation by Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Panel. 

Mr Forsyth emerged as the front runner across all sections of the tough assessment day, which included a presentation of his vision for the Force in front of a live audience including members of the Bedfordshire workforce, the Police Federation, volunteers from Neighbourhood Watch, councillors and faith and community group representatives; after volunteering via Eventbrite. The event was live streamed on the PCC’s Facebook page, with both the online audience and audience in the room contributing assessments of the strengths of the three candidates and areas for development.

Mr Forsyth said: "I am absolutely delighted to be selected as the PCC's preferred candidate to become the next Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police. It was an extremely challenging and demanding process with strong competition from two excellent chief officer colleagues, so to come out as the successful candidate is a hugely proud moment for me both personally and professionally."

 

The selection day opened with interviews with the PCC, assisted by Britain’s most experienced Chief Constable - Andy Marsh of Avon and Somerset Police - Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Chief Paul Fuller, the politically independent Chair of the Police and Crime Panel Paul Cain and Bedfordshire housing developer Steven Smith, representing the business community. It was followed by two demanding mock media interviews on an emerging scenario; as a live down the line interview by earpiece to an unseen interviewer and a recorded television interview, face to face.

 

“I’m absolutely delighted to select Garry as my choice to be the next Chief Constable of Bedfordshire, subject to confirmation by the Police and Crime Panel, as the law requires. He was outstanding throughout the entire process and it's hugely important to me that the public and the Bedfordshire Police workforce know that their next Chief is being selected entirely on the basis of his own merit.

 

“That’s why this had to be such an open and transparent process, with the public involved and the widest possible audience, all able to assess the candidates for themselves. A Chief Constable needs exceptional social skills - hence the one to one interviews at the start - and these days needs to be able to think strategically and assess business cases, which is why a representative from the business world was essential. He or she also needs to be able to communicate with all our communities equally, as a credible spokesperson, which is why the media testing was also necessary.

 

“Garry was the leader when marked by all of the assessors in the first two stages, as well as in feedback from the public and partners when judged as a whole, but all the candidates will get the benefit of taking part as they have been promised a Personal Development Plan which I have offered to discuss in detail with them afterwards, including with the new Chief Constable,” said Commissioner Holloway.

 

The appointment is now subject to a confirmation hearing before the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel, with the date to be set following a report on the selection process from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner. Once confirmed, the successful candidate will succeed current Chief Constable, Jon Boutcher, who is stepping down in July.

 

“It's a real privilege to be successful in the selection process for Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police and I am excited at the prospect of leading this fabulous Force to continue the success we have seen in recent times," Mr Forsyth said.

 

“There is still a lot to do, and I am committed to working closely with colleagues across Bedfordshire Police, our communities and with partners to strive to deliver the policing service our residents want and deserve.”

 

“For me, the privilege has been to represent the public in Bedfordshire to select the candidate who I genuinely believe will build on the incredibly strong foundation of improvement, public engagement and diversity in our workforce of Jon Boutcher and I am so looking forward to working with Garry as we move forward,” said Commissioner Holloway.

The entire selection process was subject to independent assessment of its fairness by Montell Neufville of Bedfordshire’s Stop and Search Scrutiny Panel who will submit a report to the Police and Crime Panel. Mr Neufville attended all stages, including a Familiarisation Day which had been offered to all candidates.

...Continue
PCC calls for more protection for frontline officers after C5 documentary

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."

...Continue