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PCC sets out 'Direction' plan to transform access to services for offenders to help break the cycle of crime in Bedfordshire
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has outlined her plans for an Offenders’ Hub, which will act as a one stop shop providing offenders and their families with a support network made up of an online directory of all services to help those who want to break the cycle of crime and a call centre of specialist advisors to help direct them to those services of most use to each individual.

Commissioner Holloway announced her plans to partners at her Offender Focus event at Woodland Manor in Bedford this week (Tuesday 16 October). The invitation went to colleagues working in the field to discuss the new service, which will aim to break the pattern of serial reoffending across the county, which is a priority highlighted within the PCC’s Police and Crime Plan. Those who attended included colleagues from Bedfordshire Police, the National Probation Service, Community Rehabilitation Company (local probation), the Governor of Bedford prison, local councils and offender-focused charities and organisations.   

“At the moment there is no single place where an individual emerging from prison or any other part of the Criminal Justice system can go to find out what help is available to them and also have support available from a specialist advisor. It makes absolute common sense to me to draw all the services together as a one stop shop online, for those who want to refer themselves onwards and with a call centre of experts to give one to one support to those who want help to make these connections and that’s what we’re going to do together,” said the Commissioner.

“It’s going to be called Direction and do exactly what it says on the tin; directing ex offenders to all the services they need to have the best possible chance of going straight, from access to housing, jobs and benefit advice to drug and alcohol rehabilitation services in the community.

“The Offender Focus event introduced me to a former lifer - an ex prisoner who will now work with my team to make sure the online service, the way it sounds, looks and functions are what meets the needs of others emerging from jail.

“Why partners are so on-side, apart from the fact that nothing comparable exists in the county already, is, I believe, because we’ve already proved that this works to absolutely transform support for victims of crime, through the Signpost service, with its online directory and call centre of advisors who had already assisted some 2,600 victims of crime between its launch on April 1 2018 and September 4.

“We are going to provide all the same features that made the Signpost site so user-friendly including a translation service in the main languages spoken in the county and a location feature to show ex-offenders, in this case, which services are available closest to where they live,” said the PCC.

During the conference, the audience heard from professionals who were able to paint a picture of the current issues of serial reoffending in the county. Those attending heard from Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Lay, who explained the issues around drug dealing and use across Bedfordshire and how it contributes to reoffending. Alison Harding from the National Probation Service outlined the work currently ongoing to support offenders. Detective Insp. Jackie Holmes explained the Integrated Offender Management and Prolific Intensive Offender programmes of Bedfordshire Police and the charity You Turn Futures, backed by a judge at Luton Crown Court to work intensively with habitual burglars and domestic violence offenders to change their behaviour and prospects.

 A link between the new Direction Hub and Jobcentres was announced by Mairead McGeoghan from the Department of Work and Pensions in which advisors specifically arranged for ex-offenders will be in place in all 13 Jobcentres in the Bedfordshire regional area.

 “Work is the starting point to a genuine and long term future away from crime so this joined-up service will prove crucial. We also need to make sure that not a single prisoner walks through that prison gate without a place to stay and the means of sustaining himself or herself in the immediate future or we are just setting them up to fail,” said PCC Holloway.   

The new service was overwhelmingly supported by partners. “I thought the Offender Focus event was really worthwhile and provided partners with an excellent opportunity to learn more about offenders in Bedfordshire and what works to reduce offending. Many offenders have a range of needs that, if addressed, can make a real difference to whether or not they go on to reoffend and a one stop shop that makes it easier to access services will make a real difference. This is important because rehabilitating offenders means fewer victims, and that’s the objective here,” said Alison Harding. 

The audience also had the opportunity to hear about the work carried out by the charity Ormiston Families, whose work in the county is funded by the OPCC. The organisation supports the hidden victims of crime; the children who have parents in prison. Mark Proctor, Services Director from Ormiston Families revealed that more children in the UK are affected by family members in prison than divorce. He later introduced two young girls whose father is in Bedford Prison who explained how the charity worked closely with the prison to show a video of what it is like inside to put them at ease when visiting. 

Commissioner Holloway and her team presented the proposal of the Direction Offenders’ Hub, website and support helpline and a workshop was held to brainstorm what services and features should be on the website and the proposal of a ‘hub’ for both specialist support experts and  organisations focussing on rehabilitation of offenders to work from.  

Police and Crime Panel Chairman, Paul Cain said: “I thought the conference was excellent. It just makes so much sense to join up all of the partners dealing with offender management, and it’s great to see - once again - the OPCC leading the way to make it happen.”
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PCC bids for 4.571m emergency bail out for Bedfordshire 'to save children's lives' from gang, gun and knife crime
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has submitted an emergency bid of £4.571m to the Government’s Special Policing Grant fund to continue to pay for the county’s fight against gang, gun and knife crime in a bid to save young lives, it was revealed last night (9 October 2018).

Bedfordshire Police’s Inspector, for police watchdog - Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) - who rules on applications for a discretionary special grant to cover police spending outside ‘business as usual’, revealed the bid to the county’s Police and Crime Panel.

Commissioner Holloway is calling on the Government to cover the unprecedented spend on the fight against the spread of gangs, knife carrying and gun use and supply by the cash-strapped force over the past two years and that anticipated in the current financial year,

“We have seen a 16-year-old stabbed to death on the streets of Bedford on a Sunday this September and seven young people ending up in hospital in Luton on the same evening with knife wounds after a fight involving 14, 15 and 16-year-olds. This week I’ve personally been present when a single weapons amnesty bin was opened at Halsey Road in Bedford which was found to contain four guns, a serrated zombie knife of over two feet in length, a vast Malaysian machete, a ceremonial sword and a selection of machetes, cleavers and kitchen knives, adding up to 109 bladed weapons in total.

"Nobody can tell me that we are not fighting an unprecedented threat and, given the Force’s well-documented financial stresses, I need extra help with the budget to save children’s lives and this is no exaggeration whatever,” said the Commissioner.

“As a result I have taken the unprecedented step of submitting a bid for £4.571m to the Home Office and fully evidencing the expense of all the work of Bedfordshire Police’s Op Boson Team, who lead the fight against knife, gun and gang crime across the county, over the past two years and the spend that is anticipated this year. This sum does not even include the amount which has had to be spent on extra Armed Policing Unit vehicles and the cost of manning and running them.

“In my view, this is precisely why the Government increased the Policing Special Grant Fund, to cover financial pressures on policing which lie outside the ordinary to £93m for this financial year. Quite rightly, I believe, greater flexibility is being shown than ever before in the way grants are handled. In the past, only the cost of a single event could be claimed back but, as HMI Parr confirmed to the Police and Crime Panel, the Home Office has allowed the cost of an accumulation of events to be claimed this year with one key example being the bid of Thames Valley Police to cover the disproportionate level of costs which fell on that force from the Royal Wedding and Trump visit this summer so far.

“Bedfordshire Police has provided evidence to the Home Office to back my bid to prove that the money we've already had to spend on fighting gang, knife and gun crime in the past two years, and this year too, lies outside business as usual for us. Although the mass of police activity and that of my office, to fund interventions and training in schools and of those who work with young people has held the rise in knife crime year on year to lower levels than elsewhere, recent events and the deaths of two young men in Luton in May prove that we have to fight on and to do that at the same level we need this emergency help,” said PCC Holloway.

Policing Minister, Nick Hurd, has confirmed that Mrs Holloway has submitted a bid to the emergency Special Grant fund in the House of Commons (in September 2018 in response to a question from South West Bedfordshire MP, Andrew Selous.)

The police watchdog, HMICFRS, oversees all applications for a Policing Special Grant and makes recommendations to the Home Office regarding payments. HMI Parr will oversee the application from Bedfordshire Police.

“I have been told that we can expect an answer in November and, for the sake of the children of Bedfordshire in each and every community across the entire county, I trust that I will be given the budget to continue this fight to protect them and divert and disrupt them from gangs, gun use and knife carrying,” said the PCC.

The Panel, led by politically independent Chair, Paul Cain, and comprising cross-party councillors from all three of Bedfordshire’s unitary authorities -  Bedford and Luton Borough Councils and Central Bedfordshire Council - voiced their approval of the bid and asked the Chief Constable of Bedfordshire, Jon Boutcher, and the PCC to detail work being done by them to halt the spread of gang crime and knife use.

Mr Boutcher described the work of the Force in Bedfordshire’s schools, including his own visits each month and that of Chief Insp. Juliette Everett who leads the fight against knife crime, including liaison with retailers to ensure responsible sales of knives. He detailed the very regular meetings between partners in local authorities and police to identify and produce plans around those believed to be most at risk of gang violence. Mr Boutcher described a recent panel held with young people and community members from gang hotspots and pointed to the success in Glasgow of involving the Health Service in work to counter youth violence.

The PCC described a current bid from her office to the Government’s new Early Intervention Fund - now standing at £22m thanks to a doubling of funds by the National Lottery - to pay for the specialist service Red Thread and paramedics to intervene in Bedfordshire in the “teachable moment” when young people need healthcare for gang related injuries. She told the Panel that Red Thread has proved highly successful in diverting young people away from violence in this way in the major trauma units of London and that her team has introduced them to local A&E services and already commissioned a scoping exercise to roll out the service locally.

She also described her funding of the independent specialist Violence and Vulnerability Team from the Home Office to draw up so-called Local Area Process Reviews combining all the knowledge held about gang membership and knife carriers from youth offending services, council departments and police to map the problem across Bedfordshire and help produce a strategy for the whole of Bedfordshire, 

The PCC has also commissioned a hard-hitting drama about the dangers of gangs to be presented to all pupils of 11 and over in the county’s schools this year and the training of 2,000 pupils and as many teachers and youth workers to recognise the signs of gang membership and vulnerability. Commissioner Holloway described the work her office runs and funds with families of those who have died as a result of youth violence in the county to pass on their direct experience, such as Channitta Lendore in Bedford and the youth workers behind the ‘Right to Shine’ youth clubs for young people in Lewsey Farm and a recording studio for older teenagers and those in their early 20s, in Luton.

“There is simply no way that the Chief Constable and I could be accused of sitting on our hands where our young people and gang, gun and knife crime are concerned. This danger is one of the top priorities of both the Force and my office and we are doing all possible to help communities, within our budgets, to work with police to get on top of this modern menace and save young people and to bring home available Government funds to Bedfordshire,” she said.

“All this costs money and the fight against serious youth violence ferociously absorbs resources: we need this particular emergency assistance from the Policing Special Grant to build on this foundation. Quite simply, we need this money,” she told the Police and Crime Panel.
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Bedfordshire PCC responds to HMICFRS rating of 'good crime recording arrangements' by force
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway has welcomed the latest report on crime data recording by the police watchdog - Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS). 

The PCC has said that she is particularly pleased to see that the latest HMICFRS report commended the “good crime recording arrangements” of Bedfordshire Police, for the progress being made against a national action plan in this area, and for acting on the recommendations of its last similar report.  The Commissioner has stated that she believes that acknowledgment was a reflection of the considerable focus and investment applied to driving awareness of Modern Day Slavery within the force and partnership organisations which has been funded by her office.

“I am pleased at the progress which has been noted by the police watchdog. When it comes to crime recording, the public and media worry that crime figures are being massaged down to make a force look better than it is,” said Commissioner Holloway.

“Here in Bedfordshire, the force has been found to record crime with 90.4% accuracy against very strict guidelines that are both complex and changing all the time. For example, until recently burglary of a shed, garage or out-house was not recorded as a ‘dwelling’ burglary and it now it has to be.

“Despite this, Bedfordshire Police has been found to be sixth out of twenty six forces inspected and graded by HMIFRS and has been particularly praised for its work to deliver on a national crime data integrity plan and to accurately record instances of Modern Day Slavery in particular,” added the Commissioner.

Bedfordshire Police now ranks sixth out of the 26 forces which have been inspected by HMICFRS, and has received two out of three gradings by the inspectorate of the force of ‘Good’ with a further grading of ‘Requires Improvement.’

Commissioner Holloway has informed the HMICFRS that the force Executive Team has already either completed actions that were recommended in the report to produce improvements, or placed them in an action plan which will be addressed each month. She has also told them that she is confident that actions are now in place to close the gaps identified when information flows from external professionals into multi-agency safeguarding hubs and through the Force’s Public Protection Unit.

“Every one of the recommendations of the recent inspection has either been introduced already or are subject to monthly oversight with strict governance processes introduced by the force Executive Team and myself," concluded the PCC.

The HMICFRS report also noted the good work happening within the force and recognised the commitment shown by Bedfordshire Police to respond in a way that is both "ethical and victim focused” when receiving and recording information concerning crime in this county.
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Why do young people carry knives? Tough questions discussed between young students and the Force
How do you prevent knife crime? What are the consequences of carrying a knife? How would you advise a friend who wants to carry a knife? These were just some of the questions asked by students to a panel during a session at Police Headquarters today (Friday 21 September).

The event was held as part of Operation Sceptre, a national week of action against knife crime which is being supported by Bedfordshire Police.

Chaired by former Detective Inspector Phil McCarthy from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Chief Constable Jon Boutcher was joined on the panel by Channitta Lendore, the sister of murdered Isaac Stone who was stabbed to death in Bedford in 2014, Kelly Panaghiston from Link to Change and Nicola Westbrook from the Central Bedfordshire School Nursing Team.

Chief Constable Jon Boutcher said: “This is the first time we have invited students in for an open discussion on knife crime and I am really pleased with how it went. It is important to me that we not only get our messages around knife crime across, but we listen and learn from the young people who are most affected by this issue. Reducing knife crime is the responsibility of everyone across society, policing alone cannot solve the problem.”

The session allowed over 60 young students from across the county to ask the panel questions, but also give their opinions on why they think young people carry knives and share their experiences.

“I found it a very useful experience listening to young students asking the panel questions and also offering up some of their own thoughts around knife crime. I look forward to chairing these types of sessions again,” said Phil McCarthy.

One student commented on how much they admired Channitta Lendore for joining the panel to talk about the loss of her brother Isaac, asking how she manages to deal with the pain of losing a loved one whilst working with young people who carry knives.

“It was a really positive day today. It was nice to see young people engaged and having a different interaction with them was brilliant. I deal with my loss by knowing that by sharing Isaac’s story, it could save others from the same fate as my brother,” said Channitta.

A 14 year-old student from Stockwood Park Academy in Luton said: “Today was very interesting learning about how serious knife crime is and that it doesn’t keep you safe carrying as knife. I feel reassured by our discussion, but we still need to do more to help communities in Bedfordshire.

“I would like to see more youth clubs as I feel boredom can be part of the issue. I know of people who carry knives because they now think it’s a way of providing themselves with protection. It is one of the biggest worries we have now as you don’t know who might be carrying a knife.”

Operation Sceptre began on Monday (17 September), and is running until Sunday (23 September). As well as the panel, the Force has carried out activities including weapons sweeps to look for discarded or hidden weapons, targeted patrols in knife crime hotspot areas and inputs at various schools across the county.

 
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'Doors have been going in all over Dunstable' says PCC after drug arrest successes
Bedfordshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, visited Dunstable’s Community Hub of officers to congratulate them after the outstanding operation they had planned and delivered to concentrate on drug dealing in the town resulted in ten arrests and significant seizures for drug offences.

Operation Hilton ran over 15 days, with 112 policing hours dedicated to it, delivered by a combination of the Hub and officers from across the Force plus the use of unmarked police cars to gather intelligence to pursue high level suspects. Over the course of operation, large quantities of class A and B drugs, £2,500 in cash, counterfeit money, a pepper spray and multiple mobile phones and vehicles believed to be linked to drugs dealing were seized.  In addition, an arrest was made in relation to an individual going equipped to commit a burglary.

“This was a truly outstanding and joined-up piece of police work, designed by Community Hub Sergeant, Louise Bates, based on the intelligence that she and her team had built up painstakingly over many months. It meant that doors were going in all over Dunstable and I hope this reassures the community who cannot see plain clothes policing and often wonder what is meant by problem solving in the Community Hubs, that this is the outcome that I believe they are most interested in and most want to see,” said Commissioner Holloway.

Operation Hilton planner Sergeant Louise Bates, said: "I joined officers on 99% of the shifts and it was great to see our hard work pay off with multiple arrests. After the operation, I had many officers come up to me asking to sign up for the next one. This is what Community Policing is all about. We want to be catching the criminals who have a detrimental impact on the area".

Inspector Steve Callow, who oversees the Community Team in Dunstable, said: "This was an intelligence-led operation which allowed us to target those causing most harm to the community. If we simply went after street dealers, they would be replaced in minutes with little disruption to the criminal operation. This is why it is so important that we spend time gathering intelligence, when we have limited resources, so we are able to target those higher up the food chain.

"If you are a law abiding citizen, going to work at 8.30am and returning to your family at 6.30pm and living outside criminality, the chances are that you might not see us much. That's because we aren't after you. We are targeting those in your town exploiting young adults with struggles or vulnerabilities to deal drugs on behalf of, often older, criminals."

Inspector Callow and Sgt Bates are planning to periodically reintroduce Operation Hilton as part of a policing strategy to “pulse” intensive policing into hotspot areas.

"Pulse policing allows us to have that element of surprise, giving police the upper hand on criminal activity. By using specific days of action to address these issues we are able to work with our limited resources to have the maximum impact and get the best results. Criminals won't know what, when or where we’ll be coming, but we will certainly be targeting this type of criminality again in Dunstable," added Insp. Callow.

PCC Holloway said: “I couldn’t put it better myself. The idea of pulse policing is that criminals don’t know what they’ll face but it's coming their way. Operation Hilton has demonstrated how well it works and I intend to support the Force fully with this going forward in Dunstable, as well as in replicating it elsewhere.” 

In addition, as the Chief Constable hinted in a public meeting earlier this month at Dunstable Community Fire Station alongside the PCC, both Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard have been subject to additional drugs operations and multiple arrests through the actions of the Eastern Regional Organised Crime Unit in August.
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PCC holds third annual Parish Councils' Conference to discuss policing in rural Bedfordshire now with the largest rural team in the East
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, welcomed the county's Parish and Town Councillors yesterday (13 September) telling them that Bedfordshire now has the largest rural crime team in the whole of the East of England, at her third annual Parish Conference.

All 134 Parish Councils were invited before the school holidays, in early July, to send councillors to attend the meeting at the Central Bedfordshire Council HQ at Chicksands, for the latest of PCC Holloway's annual conferences, meeting a promise in her Police and Crime Plan. The PCC was joined by the Chief Constable, Jon Boutcher, along with other senior members of the Force to discuss issues such as Community Policing, Traveller issues including illegal encampments and hare coursing.

“Before I came into this role, Bedfordshire Police did not even have a single dedicated rural crime officer. Within weeks of becoming PCC, I had agreed with the Force that we should have a specialist Rural Crime Liaison officer, connecting with parishes and farmers in particular, with the National Farmers Union (NFU) keeping a promise to me to provide a rural crime network of contacts to help police. That grew into a business case for a specialist Rural Crime Team which, in the past year, has seen the addition of four new PCSOs. This means it is now the largest such team in the whole of the seven force area of the East, from the northernmost tip of Norfolk to the southernmost tip of Kent,” said the PCC.

She asked Parish Councillors to pass on details of a new, wholly anonymous, crime reporting line set up by the NFU and Crimestoppers on the freephone line
0800 7830137 and website www.ruralcrimereportingline.uk.

The Chief Constable was keen to hear from the councillors and understand the issues they are facing in their parishes and wards as well as explaining the severe limits on the Force’s frontline on one of the lowest budgets in all of policing in England and Wales, despite crime challenges including terror threat, serious organised crime, gang, gun and knife crime and county lines drug dealing, in and out of Bedfordshire to, as well as from, London.

“Bedfordshire Police is a rurally funded Force, despite facing significant metropolitan challenges. Last year, in 2017, we saw unprecedented increases in our 999 calls. On a daily basis we were averaging 350 calls. This year we are in the 600s. We are simply asking for a fairer playing field, so we can increase the number of officers to be on parity with other Forces in the country facing similar challenges,” said Chief Constable Boutcher.  

Senior officers delivered updates on the Force's latest progress in tackling crime with Chief Supt. David Boyle, revealing the Force’s approach to dealing with issues related to the Traveller communities and, in particular, illegal encampments. He explained that Bedfordshire has significant numbers of static sites and this means that, in the summer months in particular, such settled communities are visited by travelling relatives and friends, especially from Ireland. He pointed to the particular difficulty faced by police who cannot use their legal powers to move them on to a Transit Site as none have been provided by councils in the county. This was confirmed by Central Bedfordshire councillors in the audience who support the creation of such a site.

He also confirmed that multiple vehicles have been seized from members of the travelling community as a result of Op Torby this year and that vehicles’ insurance, MOT and other details are constantly checked by officers.

Chief Superintendent, David Boyle, said: “So far this year, we have had a total of 102 encampments and we have been able to utilise Section 61 powers on 14 occasions. Each encampment is subject to a joint assessment by police and the council to establish if Section 61 (police powers) or Section 77 (local authority application to the court for the removal of an unauthorised encampment) criteria is met and we agree on a way forward. This decision is kept under review as part of Operation Wan.

“Central Bedfordshire Council has instructed its Traveller Enforcement Officer and colleagues to identify two transit sites for unauthorised encampments which fall within Central Bedfordshire. The benefit to Bedfordshire Police is that it will then allow the proportionate application of Section 62 of which is a much more robust piece of legislation which we have not been able to visit previously. Our work is much more sustainable and successful when we are working with our partners.”

The panel included Inspector Steve Callow who combines responsibility for the Dunstable Community Hub of problem-solving officers with leading Op Sentinel Rural, Bedfordshire Police’s Rural Crime Team. 

Inspector Steve Callow said: “The Operation Sentinel Rural Crime Team has been working exceptionally hard this year. Operation Torby has yielded significant results: 5000 Speeding warnings, 3 Vehicle prohibition notices, 86 Speeding Offences, 106 Verbal Warnings, 9 Street Cannabis Cautions, 11 Waste Carrier Licence Offences, 22 Arrests, 20 Stop and Searches, 300 Intelligence submissions, 287 Traffic Offences, 127 Vehicle Seizures.

“Our work is seasonal and we are currently engaged in both enforcement and disruption of Hare Coursing in our rural communities. The Rural Crime Team will continue to engage with our rural communities and continue to proactively operate within Bedfordshire. We are developing links with our partners and neighbouring forces to enhance our capabilities and share intelligence. Our aim is simple: To make the Bedfordshire countryside an unwelcome and hostile environment for those who would seek to commit crime in our rural communities. To bring offenders to justice and to protect the most vulnerable residents.”

To contact the Op Sentinel Rural Team, please email:
opsentinel.rural@bedfordshire.pnn.police.uk.

“Parish Councillors absolutely get the need for specialist policing to deal with the particular crime issues which take place in the countryside and are unique to it, such as hare-coursing on which hundreds of thousands of pounds can be being bet illegally and crimes like the theft of red diesel and agricultural plant or associated with illegal hunting or hunt saboteurs. It’s also important for them to know that the travelling community is not beyond the law in Bedfordshire and that illegal vehicles or those without the correct insurance and so on are continuously targeted and seized as there can’t be one law for that community and another for the rest of us,” said the PCC.

All parishes in Bedfordshire were invited to send a representative to the Commissioner's third Annual Parish Council Conference to speak with the PCC and Bedfordshire Police's senior officers. Commissioner Holloway is now visiting Town Councillors around the county and holding both public meetings and surgeries. A full list of current public engagements over the next six months can be found on the Commissioner’s website:
www.bedfordshire.pcc.police.uk/upcoming-engagements.
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PCC joins Force in welcoming thousands to Family Fun Day
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, joined Chief Constable Jon Boutcher to welcome families from across the county to enjoy a fun packed day of police cars, police dogs and rides to raise money for charity.

Despite the wet weather, over two thousand people turned out for the annual Family Fun Day (Saturday 8 September) to help raise money for the charity Embrace CVOC, which supports child victims of crime, with over £1,200 raised so far.

“My team worked tirelessly over the past year to help plan this year’s event and to make it bigger and better than ever. We held our nerve and refused to cancel even though the weather forecasts showed rain moving towards us across the country only to see it dry up just as the event started so the helicopter from the National Police Aviation Service could land and two thousand could join in and support Bedfordshire Police.

“I lost count of the number of children in mini police outfits having a fantastic time. This was a genuine opportunity to reach out to our communities and they came out in force. The fact that such a wonderful amount was also raised for charity is a brilliant bonus,” said Commissioner Holloway.

Throughout the day, children got the chance to jump into police cars, a fire engine and police 4x4 vehicles and onto Roads Policing motorcycles to test the sirens and learn about what the vehicles can do. The helicopter also made an appearance, bowing in salute to the Chief Constable before landing on the field and opening its doors to the public.

Thousands gathered around the centre of the field to watch the much anticipated police dog display, demonstrating drug searches as well as tracking and stopping a suspect. Visitors also got the chance to meet retired police dog Finn, who is well-known for his near fatal injuries when chasing a suspect which left him with several stab wounds, leading directly to Finn’s Law to protect police animals.

“There is something very special about the community and the police that serve them coming together for a celebration, makes every painful step on tired feet 100% worth it. A huge thank you to every single individual and team that supported the day. I look forward to the same again next year,” said OPCC Chief Executive, Clare Kelly.

“Our annual Family Fun Day was bigger and better than ever. It was so lovely to see so many families from across the county enjoying all the rides, the dog display and getting a chance to meet our officers who were helping to run the event. Thank you to everyone who helped to raise money for Embrace, a very worthy cause and I hope to see everyone again next year,” said Chief Constable Jon Boutcher.

Detective Sergeant Pete Ward, from the Cyber Team, said: “The new Cyber Triage Van attended its first Family Fun Day on Saturday. Officers from the Digital Media Investigation Team were able to highlight the positive impact of this new crime fighting capability, explaining to attendee’s the numerous benefits that Bedfordshire victim’s would feel. They ran a fastest lap on Super Mario Cart utilising the technology within the van which was extremely well received by both children and adults alike.”

In amongst all the fun activities, there were many police stalls with staff on hand to talk to visitors about cybercrime, the Watch schemes such as Neighbourhood Watch, hate crime and volunteering.

“Bedfordshire Police really wanted to make the day count and inspire another generation of would-be police officers or volunteers to work with us. Special thanks have to go to our partners, including the Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service who came along to support the Force. In fact one sign that working collaboratively is really working is that I knew all their personnel already!” said the PCC.
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Police and Crime Commissioners Two Years on Roadshow: Leighton Buzzard
 Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, was joined by the Force’s Deputy Chief Constable, Garry Forsyth, and members of the town’s Community Policing Hub Team to set the record straight on crime in the town at a packed public meeting.
 
The meeting took place at Mentmore Pavilion, Mentmore Road, Linslade, Leighton Buzzard (Thursday 29 August 2018) and was attended by residents, town councillors and the MP for South West Bedfordshire, Andrew Selous.
 
“It's incredibly important to set out what the actual facts are on crime in Leighton Buzzard and also to hear from residents themselves. Of those attending a packed meeting only six had experienced the crimes that dominate calls to the 999 Response officers of Bedfordshire Police - robbery, assault, theft or burglary. That doesn’t mean other experiences don't count of course. We heard residents complaining of a group of youths on bicycles on the High Street and a fear factor around Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) more generally which is why we have a Community Hub Team in Leighton Buzzard who work every day to address those problems,” said the Commissioner.
 
There were questions from the audience which were collected on individual cards so that any that were not answered on the night could be taken away and responded to which is what this briefing shall detail:
 
Asked why the town had lost its Enquiries Office and the police had moved from the old station to the Community Fire Station, PCC Holloway explained:
 
“Before I came into this role, I could not have known what the figures were for the footfall to the old station’s Enquiries Office - which had closed before I came into this position, as I started on 15 May 2016. The evidence shows that an average of only two people a day were coming into the Enquiries Office to report matters to police because we all have mobile phones or landlines these days and can also report online. There was a very clear choice; if you still had an Enquiries Office and its civilian staff, you wouldn’t have Sergeant Liam Mitchell and his seven PCs and three PCSOs which form the largest team ever specifically dedicated to neighbourhood policing and problem solving in this town.”
 
DCC Forsyth confirmed this adding: “I was not part of the decision to close Leighton Buzzard’s Enquiries Office, which happened before I arrived, but I’ve closed down many front counters and there’s always a footfall analysis first. It’s very clear; either you can have an empty building with no cops in it or a team of cops on the streets of Leighton Buzzard working to solve problems for you and I'm certain I know which you’d choose.”
 
The Commissioner defended the decision to relocate the Leighton Buzzard Community Hub Team - a Sergeant, seven PCs and three PCSOs acting under an Inspector, Chief Inspector and Superintendent Greg Horsford, who was also on the panel. “The old police station was not right here in the centre of the town as the Community Fire Station is, right off the High Street, Market Place and centre of policing demand around the shops and businesses by day and pubs and restaurants by night. What’s more, the Fire Station which they now share is a building you already pay for. There are visible police vehicles outside and they didn’t get here by magic. They were driven by police officers now working in your town.”
 
The Commissioner also addressed the myth that the Community Team works only until 10pm and that no police cover is available afterwards, by pointing to recent Hub activity until at least 3am to target those seeking to steal from vans and cars. Supt. Horsford confirmed that the 999 Response service covers the town after that time and that such crews do not return to their original bases between calls, but are tasked to Leighton Buzzard late at night and in the early morning. The panel referred to the swift response to a recent robbery at the Stanbridge Post Office at 5.37am. 
 
PCC Holloway pointed to significant progress by the Leighton Buzzard Community Hub Team over the last year in driving down street drinking and begging in the town centre to a few individuals, all of whom are known by the team, who continue to work with them (including arranging accommodation for one homeless man who has rejected it). 
 
Sgt Liam Mitchell, who leads the Community Hub Team, confirmed that even the persistent nuisance cyclists, mentioned at the meeting, have been targeted by his team with the use of ASB and Community Protection Orders, including orders issued to parents which can attract a jail sentence. Sgt. Mitchell said this has meant that a particular group of cyclists had stopped causing a nuisance throughout the recent school summer holidays. 
 
He also spoke of the reduction of street drinkers from a group of around 20-30 to approximately four and the Environmental Audit being carried out for consideration with the council to deal with other ASB issues, such as noise. He also gave details of successful recent arrests for both drugs and burglary in the town as a direct result of the work of his team, most of whom were in attendance to speak to residents at the end of the meeting.
 
Sgt Mitchell explained that it has never been easier to get in contact with his Community Hub Team or find out what they have been doing; the team has its own Facebook page (with approximately 1600 likes from residents) - Leighton Buzzard community policing team - with a link at the top to get in touch. 
 
Crime worries can also be reported via the Bedfordshire Police website -bedfordshire.police.uk - which, if someone wants to report a crime, offers the chance to do so in writing online or to speak to an operator via a webchat. A local issue can be reported via the “Raise a Concern” section.
 
The “Your local area” section, gives details of recent prosecutions, newsletters from the Hub team and news stories, if a search is entered for Leighton Buzzard.
 
Sgt Mitchell confirmed the Hub Team’s local area priorities are set at quarterly meetings with Town Councillors and other partners to give them a voice on how policing is delivered in the town.
 

The DCC when asked about the purpose of the PCC role replied that he enjoyed a positive relationship with the current Police and Crime Commissioner who had already done so much for Bedfordshire in such a passionate way. 
 

The Commissioner also spoke of the “fear factor” which is created by websites making claims which had often not withstood police scrutiny.
 
On the subject of thefts from vehicles, she pointed to the traditional problem in the town, first reported to her before she came into the role, in October 2015, given the quick getaway offered by the A5. The PCC asked the audience to consider the deterrent factor of notices which are widely used stating that “no valuables or equipment are contained in this vehicle overnight” and confirmed that, as the owner of a small business herself in the past, she would not have left the equipment on which her livelihood depended anywhere in an unattended car or van. “This is not, of course, passing the buck for such thefts to victims and this is why there has been such a push to target vehicle thefts by the Community Hub Team,” she said.
 
The following questions were collated, but it was not possible to read out on the night. Please note they have not been changed since submission.
 
1.  Has Bedfordshire Police looked at joining Hertfordshire closing the management and Chief Constable to save money?

Response from Bedfordshire Police -
A full merger business case was produced in 2010 but it was not agreed as a sustainable way forward. Since then the force has been through a significant level of collaboration with Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire and across the region. This has delivered great savings and also enhanced the specialist policing services available in Bedfordshire around major crime investigation, counter terrorism policing, roads policing, forensics and armed policing – plus a range of other services both operational and support such as IT and HR. These collaboration agreements are constantly reviewed to improve efficiency and deliver even greater savings for all forces involved. We are also working closely with blue light services, particularly Bedfordshire Fire & Rescue Service to see how we can work more closely and save money.

2.  Is Luton Airport paying an increased contribution towards Bedfordshire Policing? Why only two policing hubs in the county? Was any police called to account RE cost of Baldwins case? What happened to the police presence at LB fire station that we were promised? How many back room staff at police HQ?

Response from Bedfordshire Police -
Bedfordshire Police has a dedicated Airport Policing Unit, comprising a community policing team which is based at London Luton Airport which is fully paid for by the airlines, as per the associated legislation.

We re-modelled our policing model in light of our resourcing challenges and through extensive analysis of our demand data. All of the evidence showed that operating from two main response hubs was the most effective way of covering the county, however since the arrival of our current Police & Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway, we have supplemented that by introducing a number of community hubs across Bedfordshire to ensure a local presence in our towns and villages as part of our commitment to community policing.

Regarding the Baldwin’s Case. No. This was a very serious incident which involved the repeated and deliberate discharge of a firearm in a public place, against individuals who were unknown and unidentified, who were entirely innocent and were in fact police officers responding to the reported crime.
There was a public interest in investigating this incident, it is the job of the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to investigate alleged criminality and present evidence to a court to be tested by a jury.

One of the Community Hubs is based at the Fire Station in Leighton Buzzard and provides the full functions of community policing. 

The force went through a significant restructure of its support functions in 2012, which has achieved large savings. In addition the Human Resource and IT functions are collaborated with Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire and therefore the size of the support functions in Bedfordshire are low in comparison with other forces nationally.

 
3.  I asked the Chief Constable as to how much of the police budget (in terms of cash and percentage or total) was spent on travellers sites and crime committed by travellers. His reply was ‘they do not collate such detail in any way that would provide any meaningful data as requested’. If I asked for the information as a freedom of information request it well be declined as the time taken to collect the data in would take for in excess of the 18 hours that the legislation states. How can they ask for an increase for funds when we don’t know what they spend their money on?

Response from Bedfordshire Police -
As an emergency service which responds to 999 calls a response unit could be attending numerous incidents per shift so it can be very difficult to determine how much of their time, and therefore cost, is specifically related to travellers sites. Where we run specific proactive operations these can be costed, but in the main the costs mentioned are incurred as part of daily business. 
 
As a public service we are fully accountable to the public. All of our accounts are published on the force website which are available to view here.
 

4.  Drug deals on every corner blatantly selling drugs. Make prisons harder, take away all luxuries so they won’t want to go back.
 
Response from Sgt Mitchell of Bedfordshire Police -
Whilst we have no control over sentences or the prison system. We can, and do, take action in relation to drug dealing at a local level and above. The key message is one of reporting, to enable us to build a picture of who is involved and where officers should target. Information can now be submitted online at
https://www.bedfordshire.police.uk/report/Report

5.  It seems every answer that Bedfordshire has no resources and no budget so we just have to put up with fear and crime. Why does Herts have £55m reserve and Beds £3m? Is this financial mismanagement? Should all of these questions be going to the MP? Criminals now know that if they commit a crime in Leighton the response is so slow they will get away with low risk of capture. Are you saying that it is all due to poor budget so we just have to live with it?

Response from Bedfordshire Police -
The latest set of figures on PCC reserve levels showed that Bedfordshire had a total of £8.4m in reserves of which £3m was in general reserves which are put aside for any exceptional circumstances, such as major incidents or large, complex cases. The equivalent figures for Hertfordshire are £28m and £6m. Recognising that Hertfordshire is approximately twice the size of Bedfordshire, it would suggest that both PCCs are applying the same levels of financial management. In addition, due to the financial constraints in Bedfordshire, for which both the PCC and Chief Constable have continued to raise their concerns with the Government, it has not been possible to put as much money into reserves as other forces. The funding we receive therefore, through Central Grant and Council Tax is used to provide policing activity now rather than hold significant reserves.
 
6.  I was hit by a car down Hockliffe Road last month and nothing was done about it at all. The case was closed within a week and no one told me. This accident has impacted my life and I feel like no one on the Police Force care that this man is still driving around. Why has nothing been done?

 
Response from Sgt Mitchell of Bedfordshire Police -
Without further information, I cannot say. If you send me the person’s details I will look into it.
 
7.  Regarding the police presence, why is the double crewed cars policing – why not single crew allowing better coverage and more efficient?

 
Response from Sgt Mitchell of Bedfordshire Police -
Bedfordshire Police do have a single crewing policy. The community policing team also follow this policy. Single crewing is the default, but officers may crew together in response to the threat posed by a specific incident or tasking. You may also see cars double crewed when the officer is still on probationary training.

8.  After 21 years living here– There has been an increase in crime locally and in the town, ourselves and all immediate neighbours have been victims of criminal damage, burglary, van theft, and attempted caravan theft. Clear up is 090 in spite of CCTV submission (Home CCTV). Could move council CCTV be installed in Linslade to acquire the necessary images to assist clear up?
 
Response from Sgt Mitchell of Bedfordshire Police -

We work closely with our local councils and deployable CCTV cameras are an option in some instances. There is a high demand for these, and they are deployed where needed most. I would encourage people to report every instance of crime or anti-social behaviour. This not only supports any potential camera applications, but also assists in making sure that officers are deployed as effectively as possible.
 
9.  Why do we never see an officer in Linslade except when we have a council festival or a meet up such as this?

Response from Sgt Mitchell of Bedfordshire Police -

Community patrols are focused on where they are needed most, and I know that the team are regularly in Linslade for one reason or another. Public gatherings and events are a great way to maximise the number of people that we get to speak to, to get a better feel of local concerns and where our activity should be focussed.
 

10. The town needs a more direct venue to be able to consult with the police and meet officers on a face to face basis. The current fire station location is not adequate. What can be done about providing this?
 
Response from Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway -
Before I came into this role, I could not have known what the figures were for the footfall to the old station’s Enquiries Office - which had closed before I came into this position, as I started on 15 May 2016. The evidence shows that an average of only two people a day were coming into the Enquiries Office to report matters to police because we all have mobile phones or landlines these days and can also report online. There was a very clear choice; if you still had an Enquiries Office and its civilian staff, you wouldn’t have Sergeant Liam Mitchell and his seven PCs and three PCSOs which form the largest team ever specifically dedicated to neighbourhood policing and problem solving in this town.

Response from Sgt Mitchell of Bedfordshire Police -
It has never been easier to get in contact with the Community Hub Team or find out what we have been doing. The team has its own Facebook page (with approximately 1600 likes from residents) -
Leighton Buzzard community policing team - with a link at the top to get in touch. 
 
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PCC throws HQ doors open to the public to visit Force Control to understand demands on Bedfordshire Police
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, is supporting the Force in a community event to allow members of the public to see for themselves how the Force’s Control Room operates when taking 999 and 101 calls and the pressures on call handlers.

Officers and staff will be on hand on Sunday 14 October between 10am-12pm to discuss how the Control Room works, from answering calls and accessing other ways in which the public can now contact police, including by email and web chat, to directing resources in the most effective way. Adults and children will also be able to test out some of the equipment the team uses and see inside the main call handling areas via a video link. 

“Bedfordshire Police has an open door policy, unless you’re a criminal of course! It’s absolutely vital that local MPs, councillors and members of the public with a particularly keen interest in policing take advantage of opportunities to visit the Force Control Room to see both how calls and other crime reports are handled and to fully appreciate the hugely difficult task of call handlers in deciding which are the most urgent, life-threatening matters which require an immediate response since there are always more calls to service than officers to send straight away,” said Commissioner Holloway.

“Then people can see for themselves that, if officers don’t attend an incident of Anti Social Behaviour or a burglary where those responsible have left the scene, straight away, it’s not because of a lack of care but because they are dealing with another, even more serious, matter.

“There have been times this summer when 999 calls at the weekend have been at around double those usually expected on a New Year’s Eve. This serves as a reminder not only of how much demand has soared in policing but of the absolute need to support my efforts to get Government to finally address the historic shortfall in Bedfordshire’s funding - and, therefore, limits on its frontline - once and for all!” added the PCC.

Last month, Commissioner Holloway and Chief Constable Jon Boutcher welcomed two of Bedfordshire’s six MPs to take part in the national ‘Give a Day to Policing’ scheme. Andrew Selous, MP for South West Bedfordshire, and Mohammad Yasin, MP for Bedford, joined Response officers who were dealing with emergency incidents and then spent time with staff in the Control Room, known in policing as the Contact Centre, listening to incoming 999 and 101 calls.

“I’m particularly grateful to both Andrew and Mohammad for giving a day to policing, as asked, on a cross party basis. This is no time to bring party politics into the argument. Every government of every shade of the political spectrum has failed to grasp the nettle of Bedfordshire Police’s funding position in a county where any funding formula based on numbers of crimes will always mean it loses out to the huge metropolitan areas of population. As those who live here know only too well, this is a county which experiences all of the same urban crime challenges like terror threat, gang, gun and knife crime and county lines drug dealing out of London and other cities.

“To serve all of our communities equally as Bedfordshire Police wishes to do and to deal effectively with crime prevention and lower level crime such as Anti Social Behaviour, which can still make people’s lives a misery, we need to be on an equal footing,” said the Commissioner.

Town Council Mayors have also signed up to the scheme: Cllr Paul Mackin, Mayor of Shefford has already completed a day with Bedfordshire Police and Cllr Ken Wattingham who is Mayor of Houghton Regis, has made arrangements to visit.

Places are limited, so to take part members of the public should contact the Bedfordshire Police Customer Services Team at customer.services@bedfordshire.pnn.police.uk.
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PCC marks the end of her second year with surgeries across the county EVENT AMENDMENT

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has marked the end of her second year in the role by arranging a series of public meetings around the county, with the first meetings having already taken place in Luton, Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard. 


The next meeting was due to take place in Sandy on 12 September, however, due to operational reasons the meeting has had to be rearranged and the surgery will now be held on Monday 29 October from 16:30 to 18:00 at Sandy Town Council.


 

The surgery will consist of one to one sessions lasting ten minutes and will allow residents the opportunity to raise any issues or concerns they have with the PCC directly. To book your appointment with the PCC please click on the following link - https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/bedfordshire-police-and-crime-commissioner-kathryn-holloway-public-surgery-sandy-tickets-49938117253

                                                                    

 

 
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PCC leads Leighton Buzzard meeting to spell out the facts concerning policing in the town

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, was joined by the Force’s Deputy Chief Constable, Garry Forsyth, and members of the town’s Community Policing Hub Team to set the record straight on crime in the town at a packed public meeting.

 

The meeting took place at Mentmore Pavilion, Mentmore Road, Linslade, Leighton Buzzard (Thursday August 30 2018) and was attended to capacity by residents, town councillors and the MP for South West Bedfordshire, Andrew Selous.

 

“It's incredibly important to set out what the actual facts are on crime in Leighton Buzzard and also to hear from residents themselves. Of those attending a packed meeting only six had experienced the crimes that dominate calls to the 999 Response officers of Bedfordshire Police - robbery, assault, theft or burglary. That doesn’t mean other experiences don't count of course. We heard residents complaining of a group of youths on bicycles on the High Street and a fear factor around Anti Social Behaviour (ASB) more generally which is why we have a Community Hub Team in Leighton Buzzard who work every day to address those problems,” said the Commissioner.

 

Asked why the town had lost its Enquiries Office and the police had moved from the old station to the Community Fire Station, PCC Holloway explained:

“Before I came into this role, I could not have known what the figures were for the footfall to the old station’s Enquiries Office - which had closed before I came into this position, as I started on May 15 2016. The evidence shows that an average of only two people a day were coming into the Enquiries Office to report matters to police because we all have mobile phones or landlines these days and can also report online. There was a very clear choice; if you still had an Enquiries Office and its civilian staff, you wouldn’t have Sgt Liam Mitchell and his 7 PCs and 3 PCSOs which form the largest team ever specifically dedicated to neighbourhood policing and problem solving in this town.”
 

DCC Forsyth confirmed this adding: “I was not part of the decision to close Leighton Buzzard’s Enquiries Office, which happened before I arrived, but I’ve closed down many front counters and there’s always a footfall analysis first. It’s very clear; either you can have an empty building with no cops in it or a team of cops on the streets of Leighton Buzzard working to solve problems for you and I'm certain I know which you’d choose.”

 

The Commissioner defended the decision to relocate the Leighton Buzzard Community Hub Team - a Sergeant, 7 PCs and 3 PCSOs acting under an Inspector, Chief Inspector and Superintendent Greg Horsford, who was also on the panel. “The old police station was not right here in the centre of the town as the Community Fire Station is, right off the High Street, Market Place and centre of policing demand around the shops and businesses by day and pubs and restaurants by night. What’s more, the Fire Station which they now share is a building you already pay for. There are visible police vehicles outside and they didn’t get here by magic. They were driven by police officers now working in your town.”

 

The Commissioner also addressed the myth that the Community Team works only until 10pm and that no police cover is available afterwards, by pointing to recent Hub activity until at least 3am to target those seeking to steal from vans and cars. Supt. Horsford confirmed that the 999 Response service covers the town after that time and that such crews do not return to their original bases between calls but are tasked to Leighton Buzzard late at night and in the early morning. The panel pointed to the swift response to a recent robbery at the Stanbridge Post Office at 5.37am. 

 

PCC Holloway pointed to significant progress by the Leighton Buzzard Community Hub Team over the last year in driving down street drinking and begging in the town centre to a few individuals, all of whom are known by the Team, who continue to work with them (including arranging accommodation for one homeless man who has rejected it). 

 

Sgt. Liam Mitchell, who leads the Community Hub team, confirmed that even the persistent nuisance cyclists, mentioned at the meeting, have been targeted by his team with the use of ASB and Community Protection Orders, including orders issued to parents which can attract a jail sentence. Sgt Mitchell said this has meant that a particular group of cyclists had stopped causing a nuisance throughout the recent school summer holidays. 

 

He also spoke of the reduction of street drinkers from a group of around 20-30 to approximately four and the Environmental Audit being carried out for consideration with the council to deal with other ASB issues, such as noise. He also gave details of successful recent arrests for both drugs and burglary in the town as a direct result of the work of his team, most of whom were in attendance to speak to residents at the end of the meeting.

 

Sgt Mitchell explained that it has never been easier to get in contact with his Community Hub Team or find out what they have been doing; the team has its own Facebook page (with approximately 1600 likes from residents) - leighton buzzard community policing team - with a link at the top to get in touch. 

 

Crime worries can also be reported via the Bedfordshire Police website - bedfordshire.police.uk -  which, if someone wants to report a crime, offers the chance to do so in writing online or to speak to an operator via a webchat. A local issue can be reported via the “Raise a Concern” section.

 

The “Your local area” section, gives details of recent prosecutions, newsletters from the Hub team and news stories, if a search is entered for Leighton Buzzard.

 

Sgt Mitchell confirmed the Hub team’s local area priorities are set at quarterly meetings with town councillors and other partners to give them a voice in how policing is delivered in the town.

 

The Commissioner also spoke of the “fear factor” which is created by websites making claims which had often not withstood police scrutiny.

On the subject of thefts from vehicles, she pointed to the traditional problem in the town, first reported to her before she came into the role, in October 2015, given the quick getaway offered by the A5. The PCC asked the audience to consider the deterrent factor of notices which are widely used stating that “no valuables or equipment are contained in this vehicle overnight” and confirmed that, as the owner of a small business herself in the past, she would not have left the equipment on which her livelihood depended anywhere in an unattended car or van. “This is not, of course, passing the buck for such thefts to victims and this is why there has been such a push to target vehicle thefts by the Community Hub Team,” she said.
 

 

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PCC joins ICV volunteers working to keep detainees safe in a tour of custody at Kempston Police HQ

Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, joined two of the custody visitors her office engages to tour custody suites in the county checking detainees are being well treated as her office appeals for more to join them.

The Commissioner joined visitors Victor Eltringham and George Dykes who have been working as Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) in Bedfordshire for 20 and 14 years respectively in a tour of the temporary custody suite at Bedfordshire Police’s HQ in Kempston on 16 August.

“Independent Custody Visitors are absolutely essential for me and the force to know that those who come into police custody are being treated properly. We sometimes need to remember that those who have been detained are innocent until proven guilty and I’ve never yet come into one of our custody suites and found any of our officers or detention staff treating them in a way in which I myself would not wish to be treated," said the Commissioner.

"The ICVs pay visits unannounced and speak to everyone in detention who is prepared to speak to them, who is not away from a cell being interviewed or for any other reason such as a visit to the shower or medical room. They don’t know why a person has been brought into custody and they don’t need to know. As I saw for myself, they approach each detainee with a completely open mind, simply trying to establish if they are comfortable, have had food and drink or a blanket if they require them, if someone knows they’re there and even if they’re a carer or responsible for children so appropriate arrangements can be made.

“I’d urge anyone who wants to see what custody is like for themselves and to perform a key responsibility to give confidence to all our communities in how Bedfordshire Police runs these facilities to consider becoming an ICV," she said.

ICV Victor Eltringham, explained why he is committed to his role as an ICV: "I had a friend who worked in the police force 20 years ago and he knew of the Independent Custody Visiting Scheme and encouraged me to join. Overall, the experience is enjoyable and interesting at times. We find people are willing to speak to us and we find detention staff understand what we’re trying to achieve."

George Dykes, who joined 14 years ago, said: "I joined as I had left work and was looking for something to do within the voluntary sector and the ICV Scheme provided something that was interesting to me and was easy to fall into. Being an ICV is enjoyable and there’s still so much learning to do."

"We, on behalf of other ICVs over the years have made improvements within custody. The quality of the food in custody has improved as well as the standards of cleanliness in the cells and custody reception. Overall, it is a rewarding role, especially seeing the outcomes," said George.

Detention officer Steve Harris, who has been in the job for more than 10 years said: "The ICVs perform a really valuable role, even when you’ve been working in the job as long as I have as it’s always good to have some feedback to keep you at the top of your game and to confirm you’re doing things properly.

"In my work before becoming a detention officer I was used to ‘secret shoppers’ checking how I was doing so it’s very similar."

The ICVs accompanying the PCC spoke to detainees and checked the shower and medical facilities. They have a checklist to report against.

All Bedfordshire ICVs are recruited and trained by Katie Beaumont from the OPCC.

"Bedfordshire ICV Scheme is a great team of 24 volunteers who really want to make a difference. The ICV scheme highlights the importance of local community volunteers, and our ICV team delivers effective oversight of police custody in order to ensure a safe environment and deliver public reassurance. I want to personally thank all of the ICVs that give up their time and continued dedication," said Katie.

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner is currently recruiting for new ICVs. If you are interested please visit the Commissioner's website at:
Bedfordshire OPCC ICV Scheme

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