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PCC signs procurement deal which could save Bedfordshire Police more than 1 million

Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway has signed up to a regional procurement deal which could potentially save the force more than £1 million a year.

The partnership between Bedfordshire and the other six forces and PCCs in the region was signed on Friday (15 March) and will allow them to take advantage of bulk buying discounts – on everything from police vehicles to uniform and stationery.

Commissioner Holloway said: “Every shopper knows that the more you buy the more you can save if you look for good offers and that principle holds equally good for policing, whether we’re buying uniforms or patrol cars. While the seven forces of the East, including Bedfordshire, are very different in the crime challenges they face from the northernmost tip of Norfolk to the south of Kent, we still have to buy many of the same products.

“The real benefit of this absolutely ground-breaking deal is that it will focus on the greatest savings from the largest contracts. It also allows us to meet the requirements the Government has set as a condition by way of improving efficiencies before it looks again at the funding formula for all police forces in the next Spending Review at the end of 2020.

“This is of absolutely critical importance to Bedfordshire as the Policing Minister, Nick Hurd, has repeatedly promised that he will rebalance and correct the chronic underfunding of the Force, in relation to the severity and complexity of its crime challenges, in this critical review.”

The agreement is the first major announcement from the seven force collaboration which comprises Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk and Kent.

It is the latest funding boost secured by Commissioner Holloway and follows her announcement last week that the number of PCs in community policing across Bedfordshire will be doubled. The additional officers, which will include a new trouble shooting team to stamp out key crime issues, are among the 160 due to be recruited in 2019/20 after the PCC helped secure an increase of £2 per month on the council tax precept.

The PCC has also approved a longer term plan to recruit a further 120 PCs next year and between 110 and 120 in the year after that, in 2021-22.

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PCC celebrates national report singling out Bedfordshire Stop and Search Scrutiny Panel for best practice nationwide
Bedfordshire’s PCC, Kathryn Holloway, has pointed to the best practice in the country that the county’s Stop and Search Scrutiny Panel demonstrates, at a time when the issue is a controversial topic in terms of knife crime control, after the Panel’s work was praised in a national report.

The annual report of the Criminal Justice Alliance singled out the Bedfordshire Stop and Search Scrutiny Panel for the way it makes sure the Force is carrying out Stop and Search lawfully and in the most professional way possible. The Panel is led by Montell Neufville, Kimberley Lamb and Haleema Ali, experienced youth and victim support workers; with Panel members drawn from diverse backgrounds across the county, at events organised by Bedfordshire Police's Community Cohesion Team and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner. The Panel examines randomly dip-sampled footage from the body worn videos of Bedfordshire’s officers as they carry out Stop and Search and provides feedback directly to the officers and their line managers.

“This is a hugely important time for the way we do Stop and Search Scrutiny in Bedfordshire to be identified as among the very best practice in the country. We’ve seen the Government urge police to use their Stop and Search powers in order to try to drive down knife crime and forces in other areas of the country, such as West Midlands, have been using the enhanced version of Stop and Search powers (Section 60) at specific times and in hotspot areas to search everyone at a particular location, rather than requiring an officer to have an actual reason to suspect that the person who is to be searched is carrying a weapon - as is usually the case. It must be recognised that this, inevitably, can cause potential tensions in communities,” said PCC Holloway.

“The scrutiny offered by the Panel here in Bedfordshire, with members seeing and hearing for themselves exactly how and why an officer is searching a member of the public, is absolutely vital in my view to give members of our communities - and especially diverse communities who may not have had positive experiences of historic encounters with police - a real confidence that these powers are being used appropriately and that they are producing results.

“Equally, Bedfordshire Police officers understand that the criticism is constructive: the Panels aren't about 'police bashing’ but the public making genuine suggestions as to how and why a particular search might have been done differently and also sending back praise when an officer delivers the best possible encounter, in what are, let’s face it, potentially difficult and embarrassing circumstances for the person being searched.

“If we don’t want to create another generation which is disillusioned and distanced from police, destroying confidence and bonds of trust with communities that have been hard won, we have to get this right. Officers also have to have the confidence and backing to conduct Stop and Search wherever and whenever they believe an individual may be carrying a knife. Bedfordshire is said to be 11th in the country for knife crime, which indicates the level of knife carrying, and I truly believe all of us - Bedfordshire Police, me and my office team and, especially, the communities of Bedfordshire - don’t want to see a single child die, if a knife could be taken safely off the streets,” said Commissioner Holloway.

The Criminal Justice Alliance is a coalition of 150 organisations who are committed to improving the Criminal Justice system from policing to prisons and probation. Members include charities, service providers for offenders, research institutions and staff associations.

They singled out the Bedfordshire Stop and Search Scrutiny Panel for outstanding performance in the following areas:-

* Use of a red, amber, green grading for feedback to officers, delivered in face to face meetings with a Sergeant, concerning the Panel’s response to watching dip-sampled body worn videos of Stop and Search conducted by them

* The Panel’s explanation of its scrutiny - what it looks at, why and what feedback is given - via radio stations, sports centres, schools and colleges across Bedfordshire - to raise awareness of its work and encourage the widest possible representation among panel members

* The Panel’s training package for would-be members including the history of Stop and Search, case studies of those who have experienced such searches and reforms relating to the process

* Training of Bedfordshire Police officers, developed by the Panel Chair, including in unconscious bias and procedural justice

* Holding Panel meetings in various locations around the county to make them as accessible as possible to the public, including in youth centres

* Working closely with the Bedfordshire Police Community Cohesion Team who liaise with the Chair and Panel and oversee feedback to the Force

Bedfordshire Stop and Search Panel Chair, Montell Neufville, reacted to the national report saying: "We are aware that Bedfordshire Police officers listen and take the views of the panel seriously. This has led to great improvements, reduced community tensions and a better relationship in the fight against crime - which has been recognised in the CJA report.

"Stop and Search can be seen as a controversial power, getting it right is important and it's also important that there is confidence from the community that officers are using their powers fairly and appropriately. It is not down to politicians, the media or armchair critics to make a judgement on who a police officer should Stop and Search, nor should undue pressure be put onto officers to search people when it is not appropriate. There is no disagreement that a range of methods and powers should be used to take knives off our streets. However, Stop and Search can be used for a whole range of offences and this is perfectly legitimate too.

"We go to great lengths to ensure that the panel members appraising and feeding back to officers represent the diverse communities from our county, advising when they do well in addition to where there is room for improvement. We're finding that more and more appraisals of body warn videos are 'green', conducted exactly how they should be. It's clear to me that officers in Bedfordshire are becoming one of the leading forces in using the procedural justice approach when conducting their work."

Sgt Steve Mosley, who leads Bedfordshire Police’s Community Cohesion Team and personally gives feedback on the Panel’s findings face to face to individual officers, recognises the value of the Panel in building confidence in policing in communities and ensuring it is carried out in the most appropriate way.

He said: "In Bedfordshire we are fortunate to have strong positive relationships with our local communities and our Stop Search Scrutiny Panel is an example of the benefits that relationships like this have on the performance of our police force.

"Feedback delivered is a two-way dialogue between the community and officer involved and goes some way to assisting officers to understand the impact of policing activity within local communities. I can personally attest to the vast improvement I have seen in the quality of stops searches over recent years and there is no doubt that the work of the panel has vastly contributed to this effort."

“What's really important is that the feedback from the Panel is taken extremely seriously at Bedfordshire Police. I usually attend Panels and I've raised occasional issues that I’ve been unhappy with myself directly with the Chief Constable and his team. Equally I’ve made sure that those who are praised for exceptionally professional behaviour receive that positive feedback. I’m also delighted to say that, while the Panel members are robust in their scrutiny, it's rare for a video to be given the red rating which would immediately lead to investigation by line managers,” said the Commissioner.

Officers performing Stop and Search must follow a process known as GO WISELY - identifying the grounds for the search and the object they are looking for; they must supply a warrant card to identify themselves as a police officer if not in uniform; they must say who they are and which station they come from; they must offer an electronic copy of the record of the search and state the legal powers under which the search is being carried out and must say that the subject is being detained for the purpose of a Stop and Search.
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PCC completes '70% of Police and Crime Plan in less than 3 years' according to scrutiny panel
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has been found to have delivered more than 70 per cent of the pledges she made in her Police and Crime Plan for the county with more than a quarter of her term to go, by the all-party Police and Crime Panel who scrutinise her performance, which also includes independent members.

The comments came at the bi-monthly meeting of the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel to hold PCC Holloway to account, held at Futures House, Marsh Farm, Luton on Tuesday (12 March).

"The panel felt a considerable amount of the pledges have already been achieved by the Police and Crime Commissioner and her office. Our scrutiny will be focused on the last remaining actions to ensure the full plan is delivered," said Paul Cain, the politically independent Chair of the Panel.

Among the key areas delivered, Kathryn Holloway was found by the panel to have robustly and continuously argued for increased Government funding for Bedfordshire Police – bringing in a unique grant of £4.571m in December 2018; she has overseen recruitment of 95 officers in her first year, 105 in the second and approved a budget to recruit 160 this year, including 60 new posts which will double the existing strength of PCs across the Community Hubs countywide; eight Hubs having been created according to the lead priority of her plan to return Community Policing to Bedfordshire.

Commissioner Holloway was also found to have delivered on her plans to transform services for victims of crime by creating the Signpost online directory of available services for the county – at 
www.signpostforbedfordshire.com  – and the call centre of specialist Victim Care Coordinators which provide assistance to victims (on Freephone 0800 0282 887 six days a week); a service which celebrates its first anniversary on 1 April. The PCC has also delivered on plans to demonstrate her duty of care for officers, including the introduction of a free monthly drop-in healthcare service and health screenings in partnership with the University of Bedfordshire.

"I am obviously completely delighted that the Panel, who include members from the ruling political parties of all three of the local authorities in Bedford, Central Bedfordshire and Luton, together with independent members, have recognised the progress that has been made. This absolutely could not have been possible without the support of my exceptional Chief Constable, Jon Boutcher, and his Executive Team nor without the outstanding officers and staff of Bedfordshire Police, who carry more individual caseloads than those in other forces, and race from task to task to serve the public here in a manner which is absolutely humbling," said PCC Holloway.

“But there is always more to do; I am promising to create a national gold standard Sexual Assaults Referral Centre (SARC) in a non-medical setting with a videolink so that rape victims and those who have been sexually abused can give evidence without the trauma of seeing their attacker in court and we have just found a fantastic location for that. We’ve been searching throughout my term for exactly the right building!

“On 2 April we are going to announce the first anniversary results for Signpost to prove the overwhelmingly positive response of victims, from their feedback, and then launch my new service – called Direction – which will also have a single online home for all services for those who have been offenders but who now want to go straight. It, too, is going to be backed by a specialist call centre team of advisors to do all we possibly can to give them the tools and support services to do so to prevent that whole revolving door process back to prison creating a constant stream of victims.

“I also need to replace the temporary custody block at Kempston and to finalise the outline planning permission I have insisted on to get the best price for the former Greyfriars Police Station and show a further duty of care to our officers and staff by refurbishing some of the more tired and, frankly, depressing, areas of the estate, with some of the proceeds, at Luton Police Station, Dunstable and HQ,” said Commissioner Holloway.

The Police and Crime Panel ruled to scrutinise the following areas over the final year of the Commissioner’s term to May 2020:

• The number and deployment of the 60 new PCs and 100 replacement PCs recruited this financial year
• The delivery of the Sexual Assaults Referral Centre
• The delivery and progress of Direction
• Feedback on the performance of Signpost
• Progress with a permanent custody suite replacement at Kempston HQ and of the sale of Greyfriars station in Bedford

Cllr Ian Dalgarno Executive Member for Community Services at Central Bedfordshire Council and a member of the Police and Crime Panel overseeing the work of the Commissioner welcomed the news highlighting “The commissioner is to be congratulated on the delivery of 70 per cent  of the Police and Crime Plan and on the recruitment of additional officers. Local Town and Parishes have been calling for an increased officer presence and the commissioner has listened to this feedback and is delivering for our communities."

OPCC Chief of Staff, Clare Kelly, also invited the Panel to scrutinise the PCC’s public engagements in relation to her Police and Crime Plan stating: "I invited the panel to ensure scrutiny on the engagements and daily workings of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner as well as the pledges that they wanted to focus upon. Because the people of Bedfordshire have the right to be informed of the immense activity and consultation that is taking place to ensure a value for money service is being delivered on their behalf."
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PCC announces doubling of existing Community Police Constables with a trouble shooting task force for neighbourhoods as part of largest cop recruitment in Bedfordshire for a decade

Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has announced that she is backing the doubling of the current strength of PCs in Community Policing countywide including those forming a new unit of trouble shooters to move into an area to target and stamp out a key crime issue at neighbourhood level, (at a meeting of Central Bedfordshire Council’s Community Safety Partnership Executive on Thursday, 7 March).

The recruitment of the officers and trouble shooting team will be introduced this financial year and will see a boost in PCs working in Community Policing Hubs across Bedfordshire’s towns, which also serve the surrounding area - in Luton (which has two Hubs as the largest town in the county), Bedford, Biggleswade, Dunstable (also serving Houghton Regis) and Leighton Buzzard. (The eighth Community Policing Hub is based at Luton Airport but is subject to separate arrangements as the PCC receives full cost recovery for officers working there from the airport management company. A mini Hub in Ampthill of a PC and PCSO based at the Community Fire Station will also benefit from the boost to the Biggleswade team).

“Every community and those who represent it, such as MPs and councillors, have been crying out for an uplift to officers dedicated to Neighbourhood Policing. The Hubs are working; they are out and about in communities every day and also set three local community priorities every few months with these elected representatives and other key community groups to concentrate on at any one time, but we need to give them more help given the scale of public demand, and provide it through officers with full warranted powers, hence this announcement,” said PCC Holloway.

“I had already pledged that Bedfordshire Police would recruit more officers this year than in any year for a decade - 160 - of whom 60 are brand new posts above the level the Force had planned for; 100 will replace those leaving through retirement or other issues this year (with 80 replacements needed on average annually). Where the extra officers are concerned, I have worked with the Force to ensure that those spending an extra £2 a month on council tax this year can see a change which they would welcome. These will be genuine extra officers in communities, recruited for the purpose of neighbourhood policing,” she said.

An extra four PCs specialising in Community Policing will join each of the Hub teams based in Luton North, Luton South, Leighton Buzzard, Dunstable (covering Houghton Regis), North Urban (covering Bedford), and North Rural (covering Ampthill).

Bedfordshire Police is also to create a Neighbourhood Intervention Team of a Sergeant and nine new PCs who will be a permanent trouble shooting unit to move around the county to deal with pernicious issues as they arise in communities, at neighbourhood level, anywhere in Bedfordshire. The team was inspired by the success of Operation Hilton in Dunstable, which followed a public meeting held by the PCC and attended by Chief Constable, Jon Boutcher in late August 2018. Op Hilton successfully targeted drug dealers and resulted in multiple arrests and the seizure of Class A drugs, weapons and counterfeit money over a fortnight of focussed operational deployments.

“The only problem was that Op Hilton ran on the basis of overtime and Bedfordshire Police simply couldn’t afford that on a permanent basis. I am supporting the Deputy Chief Constable, Garry Forsyth, in the Neighbourhood Intervention Team initiative as it is a way to try to go in hard and swiftly to deal with pernicious problems as they arise in a particular neighbourhood, if they are on a scale which outstrips those available to deal with them within the existing local Community Policing Hub,” said Commissioner Holloway.

The PCC has also approved a longer term plan to recruit a further 120 PCs next year and between 110 and 120 in the year after that, in 2021-22.

“It’s been hugely important to me to put Bedfordshire Policing recruitment on a firm footing over a longer term than my own in this office; which comes to an end in May 2020. It’s the right thing to do as the Force needs some certainty around this in order to plan and so do our communities, whatever happens at the ballot box!” said Commissioner Holloway.

The Community Hubs are devoted to a combination of problem solving and public engagement and are comprised of specialist Sergeants, PCs and PCSOs. The Biggleswade Hub (known as North Rural) also covers the neighbouring areas of Shefford, Sandy and Potton plus the PC and PCSO based in Ampthill. Hubs in Dunstable (covering Houghton Regis) and Leighton Buzzard work within their urban bases and also in neighbouring rural villages. The Rural Crime Team - known as Op Sentinel Rural - which is now the largest in the seven force area of the East of England, also forms part of Bedfordshire Police’s Community Policing Unit and deals with those crimes which take place purely because of their country location and which require specialist knowledge of legislation, including in relation to illegal traveller encampments, hare coursing, poaching on an industrial scale, illegal hunting and hunt saboteurs, as examples, and back up the rural work of the Hubs.

At the meeting of Central Bedfordshire Council’s Community Safety Partnership Executive, at the local authority headquarters at Chicksands, where the PCC made her announcement, councillors warmly welcomed the news.

“You’ve got to let people know about this. An extra 60 officers overall this year is a huge increase in Bedford Police terms and it’s important that people know new recruits are going into Community Policing,” said Cllr. Delgarno, who is also a member of the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel which holds the PCC to account.

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OPCC holds panels to allocate 1.6 million pound Grant Fund
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, and her office have been holding a series of panels over the last fortnight to decide which organisations will be awarded money from her Grant Fund to help victims and reduce crime in Bedfordshire over the next year.

The commissioning team received 85 applications (69 of which were from external organisations and charities) for the 2019/20 Grant Fund totalling more than £3.8 million worth of bids to help victims and increase community safety in the county. Over the last two weeks (4–15 February), applicants have been presenting for an hour each to a panel of experts and residents from across the county who decide if any of the £1.6 million of grant funding will be allocated to them.

The Commissioner and her team were joined by safeguarding experts from local authorities, organisations and charities across Bedfordshire which provide support in domestic violence, sexual violence, education, early intervention and offender rehabilitation. The independent chair of the Police and Crime Panel, Paul Cain, was also present for many of the panels.

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner will now be reviewing the feedback from the panels and the presentations with the aim of announcing the successful applicants for the 2019/20 Grant Fund in March. As part of the Commissioner’s commitment to working with services to support victims of domestic violence, sexual violence and hate crime, the team will also be looking to support services which aim to reduce offending in areas such as domestic violence by providing education for offenders, child sexual exploitation, modern day slavery and county lines.

Last year, the Commissioner funded an enhanced new service for all victims of crime in Bedfordshire, called Signpost. The free and confidential service is a one-stop-shop for all the information a victim of crime needs to know. Signpost consists of a call centre of specialist Victim Care Coordinators, available on Freephone 0800 0282 887, running six days a week (Monday to Friday 8am – 8pm, Saturday 9am – 5pm). Signpost also has an online directory of all support services for those affected by different crimes (and a section telling them what will happen next if they report these crimes to the police) at signpostforbedfordshire.com.

In the last round of grants, the PCC also commissioned multiple organisations supporting victims of Domestic Abuse and Child Sexual Exploitation and other crimes against women and children such as Female Genital Mutilation and Forced Marriage. Organisations such as the Anne Frank Trust received funds to work in schools across the county to combat prejudice and prevent Hate Crime through the story of Anne Frank and the PCC established Bedfordshire’s first dedicated counselling service to help male victims of sexual and domestic abuse. 

The application process for the Grant Fund was officially launched at the end of last year (Tuesday 11 December 2018) and closed on Friday 11 January. This year, the Commissioner has actively encouraged applications which demonstrate joint working across organisations for the benefit of Bedfordshire residents countywide.

The PCC’s Grant Fund is created by combining a grant from the Ministry of Justice and funding from the Bedfordshire Police force budget, producing a flexible and accessible grant opportunity aimed at promoting innovative and collaborative working across Bedfordshire.
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PCC to pay for up to 400 new police officers and double those in Community Policing with 2 pound per month council tax rise
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has announced that she is to back recruitment of up to 400 new Police Constables and double the number of PCs in Community Policing across the county as the result of a £2 per month increase in the police share of council tax which was approved by the county’s Police and Crime Panel last night (5 February 2019).

The PCC explained that the number of recruits would be funded as a result of a combination of the unique Special Policing Grant of £4.571m that she won from the Home Office last December and a total of £8m, made up of the police’s council tax precept and Government grants of £1.1 and £1.3m as part of the Policing Settlement for all forces for this financial year, which was also announced in December. The budget also depended on savings from scrutiny of every officer, member of staff and expenditure in 20 departments at Bedfordshire Police so far, which make up half the Force.

She told the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel, who must vote on her budget and precept proposal, that she had been “insistent” that the increase in council tax was not simply used to tackle costs rising with inflation like pay, pensions and insurance, but to deliver a meaningful uplift in officers in visible policing in communities.

“This is why we have agreed a budget which creates 160 new PCs in Bedfordshire in the year 2019-20 and that those going into the eight Community Policing Hubs in towns around the county, will double the available number of PCs already in post in neighbourhood policing. This is a really meaningful uplift and is what everybody tells me they want,” said PCC Holloway.

“I also consider that it would be remiss of me to plan a budget which only deals with the final year of my term in office and am proposing one which will deliver recruitment of 120 more PCs in the year after that - which is 20 more than I’ve already promised, now the budget has been finalised - and for between 100 and 120 for the following year of 2021-22, whatever happens at the ballot box at the next Police and Crime Commissioner election, as a proper plan to secure Bedfordshire Police’s future recruitment.

“Every single community, everywhere I go in the county, wants to see more officers in communities and that is also what I have agreed with the Force, with this very significant uplift in Community Hub officers as it has been imperative to me that people get a change that is palatable to them if having to pay an extra £2 per month,” said Commissioner Holloway.

Chief Finance Officer, Phil Wells, confirmed to the Panel that, without the Special Policing Grant of £4.571m that the Commissioner won in December, far from increasing recruitment, it would have had to stop.

The Commissioner also revealed that Bedfordshire Police is to create a Neighbourhood Intervention Team made up of a Sergeant and nine PCs to move from area to area as trouble shooters following the success of Operation Hilton, to combat drug dealing in Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard, in early autumn 2018.

“The success of Op Hilton, with drug dealers’ doors going in all over Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard to take them out of the picture and disrupt the drug dealing that was making local residents’ lives a misery, was the inspiration for the Neighbourhood Intervention Team. The problem of Op Hilton was that it had to be delivered primarily on overtime which was an expense Bedfordshire Police simply can’t afford every time. The beauty of this proposal is that, as the Force is aware of a pernicious problem in one of our towns or villages, the Neighbourhood Intervention Team can move in to target it and produce similar results as its core, day to day, purpose,” said PCC Holloway.

The proposals were welcomed by Police and Crime Panel members, Cllr. Fiona Chapman and Cllr. Alison Foster with Cllr. Foster saying she had spoken to many residents in Harrold who had said they were prepared to support an extra £2 per month increase per Band D (averagely priced) home. Bedford Borough Cllr. Sarah Jayne (sic) Gallagher said she supported the increase in police numbers but did not support passing the cost on to the local council taxpayer and abstained. Bedford Borough Cllr. Randolph Charles voted for the precept as the only means available to the PCC to raise the number of police officers in the Force. Independent member Damian Warburton also pointed to the rising cost of living and the need for Central Government to put Bedfordshire Police on a sustainable financial footing.

“I entirely agree that continuing to fund improvements in policing through the council tax precept are not sustainable. All this would mean in future would be that those forces with a higher proportion of Band D homes in their county would grow richer while those, like Bedfordshire, with a far smaller number of Band D homes would get poorer, by comparison, and I made the Policing Minister, Nick Hurd, aware of this immediately after he announced this settlement for 2019-20, based on a maximum council tax rise by me of £2 a month,” said Commissioner Holloway.

Independent Chair of the Panel, Paul Cain, said he was being informed daily that other Police and Crime Panels around the country were voting in favour of a £24 per year increase as the only means for Police and Crime Commissioners to fund improvements in policing and an uplift in numbers of officers. He pointed to the work done by Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner to make the Government aware of the plight of Bedfordshire Police.

“I would like to point to the work of our Commissioner as I honestly don’t believe that anyone could have done any more than she has to raise the funding issues of Bedfordshire Police and she has had to do so with more than one Policing Minister and Home Secretary since she came into this role and deserves to be congratulated for this. I can just imagine the Policing Minister, Nick Hurd, cringing every time he hears that it’s Kathryn wanting to talk to him!,” said Paul Cain.

When asked by Damian Warburton if anything more could be done to win more money from Government at this stage, the PCC replied: “I have raised Bedfordshire Police’s case with every Policing Minister, Home Secretary, the Prime Minister, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Chancellor and the Security Minister but, as governments come and go, what’s just as important is that the Police Funding Team of civil servants who are always in place now fully understand the plight of Bedfordshire Police as they had to go over the books to agree the Special Grant of £4.571m and I will be asking them to do so again this year.”

Panel Chair, Paul Cain, spoke of his disappointment that so few Police and Crime Panel members attended the vital annual budget-setting meeting as, without three quarters of the Panel being present, the budget and precept rise had to be voted through in any case. Conservative councillors Paul Downing, Peter Hollick and Ian Delgarno all sent apologies. None of Luton's Labour councillors attended.
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PCC offers parishes a chance to pay for dedicated PCSOs to help solve crime problems in their local area

Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has offered all parish councils the chance to decide whether to pay for a dedicated Police Community Support Officer for their local area.

 

The Commissioner has written to all such councils throughout the county to confirm that her emergency grant win of £4.571m in December together with the Policing Settlement for all forces, which will deliver £8m to Bedfordshire Police in 2019-20, will allow her to recruit 160 Police Constables in this financial year. However she acknowledged that this would be insufficient to provide an officer for every neighbourhood.

 

“A number of councillors who have attended my annual Parish Councils’ Conferences on three occasions have voiced the wish to be able to pay for a PCSO for their area. I understand precisely why as PCSOs represent the police service not police force in their emphasis on problem solving and genuine engagement with communities. 

 

"Just last week I opened Bedfordshire Police’s winter conference on Community Policing and one of the most outstanding speakers was a superb PCSO from Bedford’s Community Hub who has done truly outstanding work assisting almost 50 people off the streets and out of homelessness, helping to manage street drinking and begging and explaining to the public that donations to help solve the problem are best given to homelessness charities rather than to fund possible drug use,” said the Commissioner.

 

“I am reinstating an offer which I understand used to be available to parishes to fund a PCSO which the Force tell me would cost £31,200 each year, after it was explained to me that some of our parishes hold substantial cash reserves.”

 

The PCC is also brokering conversations with the unitary authorities and town councils to make a similar offer and to provide reassurance that the PCSOs they might pay for will not be lost into general policing duties in other areas. 

 

“I can appreciate entirely why this might be a concern, given all the constant pressures on the Force, but the Bedfordshire Police senior team has confirmed that it would be prepared to discuss agreeing a maximum time for abstraction from duty for a PCSO in a specific area in these circumstances. Obviously a Chief Constable must always be in charge of where every officer might be deployed in extremis but both sides would need a clear agreement around this,” said the Commissioner.

 

“Nothing would please me more than being able to afford an officer for every community, but I live in the real world where I am not allowed to overspend on the budget. I have pushed this year’s finances to their absolute limit, as well as presiding over a process to scrutinise every officer and item of expenditure in one half of the Force, to be followed by the other, to get to recruitment of 160 Police Constables in this financial year but common sense dictates that, if other areas, particularly in the rural parishes, want a permanent police presence, it has to be funded somehow,” she said.

 

“The difference between this idea and the hours of a PCSO that some town councils, like Leighton Buzzard and Houghton Regis, have contracted in the past, is that it would not mean sharing a PCSO on the basis of overtime but recruiting one especially,” said Commissioner Holloway.

 

The Commissioner is presenting her balanced budget to the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel at its meeting next Tuesday (February 5 2019), when she will formally announce her plans for the council tax share of police funding plus the number of Police Constables she is supporting the Force to recruit in the year 2019-20 and those planned for the following two years beyond this.

 

Bedfordshire Police has already made savings of £34.7m since 2010 and is in the process of trying to find £11m more to balance the books as it plans to meet demand in the next few years.

 

“In fact the biggest problem for me in making this offer and giving the choice to parishes has been reaching all the parish councils in the county to ask them to discuss their views and update me as the contacts change regularly in some cases. I’ve been asked by one council why they read about this in the paper first and the answer is that I felt it a basic courtesy to write privately to councils first to ask them by letter and, only then, to comment about this in the media as I am now doing only today,” said PCC Holloway.  

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PCC calls on council to deliver on promise to work with police and share survey following 'cynically misleading' political leaflet

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has called on Bedford Borough Council’s Mayor and leading Liberal Democrat group to work with the Force as promised despite a political leaflet distributed as a ‘newspaper’ - the North Bedfordshire Observer - urging her to call on the Government for more funding for policing, as if she had not done so continuously since coming into her role, including sharing a survey on police funding.

 

At her request, the PCC invited all Bedford Borough Councillors to hear from her, the Deputy Chief Constable, Garry Forsyth and Bedfordshire Police’s Chief Finance Officer, Phil Wells, in advance of her proposal to increase the policing precept by a maximum of £2 per month per Band D home in the next year, which will be put to the county’s Police and Crime Panel next month (February 5 2019) in order for the PCC to recruit 160 more Police Constables in 2019-20. 

 

The meeting took place at Bedford Borough Hall last week (on January 16 2019) with councillors of all parties, including the leading Liberal Democrat group, welcoming the Commissioner’s approach to reintroduce and boost Community Policing, as they now take part in Local Priority Area setting meetings each quarter with police to establish the matters which are most important to residents in their areas. Councillors also backed her commitment to raise police numbers by recruitment of 160 more Constables this financial year. Cllr. Alison Foster also praised the introduction of the largest Rural Policing Unit in the seven force Eastern Region and cited her own experience of the regular public engagement of officers in her own area of Harrold.

 

The PCC confirmed that she has worked continuously over the past two years 18 months to very robustly explain the need for sustainable funding of Bedfordshire Police to at least the same level of forces facing comparable crime challenges, such as the third highest level of counter terror in the country, serious organised crime and ‘county lines’ drug and gun dealing networks to and from London and unprecedented levels of gang and knife crime, following the national trend.

 

Yet the Liberal Democrat group distributed a leaflet over last weekend (Sunday 20 January 2019 in the case of the Commissioner’s own home) which stated: “Bedfordshire has a Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner and she must also ask her Government to fund our Police, at least to the same level of other forces.”

 

“I don’t drag politics into policing and I was incredulous, frankly, to read this instruction in a leaflet posted through my own door, as I have been driving the Bedfordshire Police fairer funding message home to the Government and MPs every single week for the whole of my time in office; in absolutely constant contact with the Policing Minister, Nick Hurd, and his two predecessors, two Home Secretaries, all MPs across the county irrespective of political party, the Chancellor, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and the Prime Minister herself, in person.

 

“That’s precisely why I was personally successful in winning a unique £4.571m Policing Special Grant for Bedfordshire Police in December 2018 as well as its new £8m funding for 2019-20 as part of the national Policing Settlement for all 43 forces, just before Christmas.

 

“I formally wrote to the Mayor and asked for him and his council to write to the Chancellor before the Policing Settlement to throw their weight behind the door to back me in calling for a much better settlement for Bedfordshire Police this year yet I’ve never seen such a letter. I’ve repeatedly asked for joint working beyond politics to help Bedfordshire Police and that’s exactly what councillors across the entire Borough Council voiced their support for just last week.

 

“We have to stop treating policing like a political football and start working together as all the Bedford Borough councillors who spoke at the meeting told me they wanted, including some very positive and supportive messages from the Liberal Democrat ruling group themselves,” said Commissioner Holloway.

 

PCC Holloway also queried the format of the political leaflet as the title of the glossy four page publication - “North Bedfordshire Observer” - suggested that it was a newspaper, despite a single line at the top in much smaller print stating “Delivered by Lib Dem volunteers.”

 

“I am a former news reporter who has worked across local, regional and national news for more than 20 years. I know people tend to trust editorial in newspapers which has been written by independent journalists much more than political leaflets. For this reason, I used a wrap-around our existing newspaper, The Bedford Times and Citizen, before my own election, rather than mislead people by sending out something which has been designed specifically to look and sound like a newspaper even down to the “free” label on the title, when no political leaflet is ever charged for. This was cynically misleading.

 

“But what was truly cynical was to say the party is backing fair funding for Bedfordshire Police when they have already been given the chance to do so, in writing, by me and to imply that I have not done what I have continuously done for more than two and a half years.

 

“Nevertheless, now the Lib Dems are copying my own office in running a survey on police funding, which we have been doing for weeks, I have written to the Mayor and asked him to put politics aside and add his own survey results to ours to deliver the views of an even larger section of the population to the Police and Crime Panel next month, when setting the budget and to assist approval of the police precept rise to allow me to recruit those 160 officers.

 

“I have asked the Mayor to set politics aside and work fully with me and Bedfordshire Police to do what we were both elected to do - protect the public in and around Bedford - and I trust that the two Liberal Democrat members on the panel will now attend and vote for the funding uplift this year,” said Commissioner Holloway.

 

Members of the public can comment on the Commissioner’s proposed council tax rise on www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/precept2019 and also contribute to the Liberal Democrat survey at bedfordlibdems.org.uk/policemoney.

 
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Over 3.7 million pounds worth of bids submitted to PCC's Grant Fund, up more than 1m on last year

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has received applications for her 2019/20 Grant Fund totalling over £3.7 million worth of bids to help victims and reduce crime in Bedfordshire.

The application process for the Grant Fund was officially launched at the end of the year (Tuesday 11 December 2018) and closed on Friday 11 January. Some 69 applications have been received. The Grant Fund is created by combining a grant from the Ministry of Justice and funding from the Bedfordshire Police budget producing a flexible grant opportunity aimed at promoting innovative and collaborative working across Bedfordshire.

“What I’m particularly delighted about is that the word about my grant funding is getting out to more people than ever before as I’ve made it clear that I don’t just want all the usual suspects to apply but people with fantastic ideas to help victims or make their communities safer but who may never have applied for a public sector grant in their lives!


“I’d like to assure this group that this will be taken into account by me and my panels hearing the applications and that we will give help to develop some of the best ideas,” said the Commissioner.

“More than £1m more in bids have been submitted this year than last - £3.7m now as opposed to £2.6m in 2018-19. This does, of course, mean that with only a total of £1.6m to distribute, a lot of people are not going to be successful but I intend, as always, to make this money go as far as possible and to favour projects which are funded from more than one source so partners are genuinely invested and working together,” she added.

 

Last year, the Commissioner funded an enhanced new service for all victims of crime in Bedfordshire, called Signpost. The free and confidential service is a one-stop-shop for all the information a victim of crime needs to know. Signpost consists of a call centre of specialist Victim Care Coordinators, available on Freephone 0800 0282 887, running six days a week (Monday to Friday 8am – 8pm, Saturday 9am – 5pm). Signpost also has an online directory of all support services for those affected by different crimes (and a section telling them what will happen next if they report these crimes to the police) at signpostforbedfordshire.com.

 
In the coming year, PCC Holloway intends to provide a similar service for former offenders to also draw together contact information for all services available to support them in Bedfordshire into one online home, backed by a call c entre of specialists. The new service will launch in April and will be called Direction.


In the last round of grants, the PCC also commissioned multiple organisations supporting victims of Domestic Abuse and Child Sexual Exploitation and other crimes against women and children such as Female Genital Mutilation and Forced Marriage. Organisations such as the Anne Frank Trust received funds to work in schools across the county to combat prejudice and prevent Hate Crime through the story of Anne Frank and the PCC established Bedfordshire’s first dedicated counselling service to help male victims of sexual and domestic abuse. 


The process is still ongoing, with the Commissioning team currently assessing bids. A selection of the 69 applicants will then be invited over the next two months to present to the PCC and a panel of members from across Bedfordshire who will then decide if any of the £1.6m of grant funding will be allocated to them.

“It’s important that the process is seen to be fair, open and transparent. The politically independent Chair of the Police and Crime Panel, Paul Cain, will join me and there will be representation from young people in the criminal justice system for applications relating to them as well as from minorities in our communities,” said Commissioner Holloway.

More information on the commissioning process can be found at
www.bedfordshire.pcc.police.uk in the Campaigns & Initiatives section under Funding Opportunities. Anyone with any questions should contact the OPCC on 01234 842064 or email PCC-Commissioning@Bedfordshire.pnn.police.uk.

 
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PCC and top team from Bedfordshire Police meet residents of Houghton Regis in public meeting to discuss investment in local policing throughout the county

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, was joined by the Deputy and Assistant Chief Constables of Bedfordshire Police and members of the community team to meet residents to explain their plans for local policing at a public meeting in Houghton Regis (Monday January 14 2019).

 

The PCC opened the event at the Bedford Square Community Centre in Tithe Farm Road, Houghton Regis, by explaining the investment she is insisting on in new officers for local policing following her successful bid to the Home Office for a unique £4.571m emergency payment from the Special Policing Grant Fund and £8m in the Policing Settlement for all 43 forces in England and Wales for 2019-20, which was announced by Policing Minister, Nick Hurd, immediately before Christmas.

 

She explained that the Special Grant win had prevented an overspend which would have stopped recruitment in its tracks, following the unprecedented cost of fighting gang, gun and knife crime in the county. She revealed that the Policing Settlement had meant that she is insisting on investment in 160 new Police Constables this financial year and provision for 100 more in each of the following two years as the Government has made it clear that, by giving her the option of raising council tax by a maximum of £2 per month for a Band D home, improvements in local policing must be the result.

 

“I’m fully aware that this is a huge ask when Bedfordshire Police is also facing huge pressures of costs which increase each year with inflation. This coming year they include an anticipated pay settlement of 2% for officers and staff, a trebling of insurance for police vehicles and £115,000 to cover a shortfall in pensions nationally, despite extra income from Government in the Policing Settlement in two new grants of £1.318m and £1.117m to help with these pressures,” Commissioner Holloway told the audience.

 

“The increase in officers is necessary because it’s what every member of the public in every community tells me they want and it’s what the frontline at Bedfordshire Police need too. What’s more, the Government has made it absolutely clear that a council tax increase must produce improvements in local policing - that’s what people will primarily be paying more for - and if it doesn’t happen, in my view Bedfordshire Police would have absolutely no chance of having its fundamental funding position improved in the next Spending Review,” she said.

 

The Deputy Chief Constable, Garry Forsyth, confirmed the priority the Commissioner has placed for the Force in recruiting 160 officers in this financial year and explained that, in addition to the Government grant and council tax income, Bedfordshire Police will have to make further savings to achieve this.

 

“The Force has already had to make cuts of £34.7m since 2010 which has, of course, had an impact on the service we can provide to the public. We deal incredibly well with Serious Organised Crime at one end of the scale and protecting the most vulnerable at the other but we recognise that those in the middle, like some of you in this audience, can feel left out and let down at times when you call us over anti social behaviour or vehicle thefts and we don’t have the number of officers to respond because they are having to deal with situations which are life-threatening.

 

“At the moment we’re engaged in a process to examine every single officer and item of expenditure across the first half of the Force and we are finding efficiencies of up to £4m to avoid cuts in service. We will finish this at the end of January and then we’ll look at the other half. We’re also finding areas which need further investment, so it’s a complex picture but we are investing in local policing as your local Community Hub team shows and the Commissioner has made it absolutely clear to me what she expects,” said DCC Forsyth.

 

The audience was urged to have its say to support the PCC’s proposed rise in the local policing precept by just £2 a month for a Band D Home, as members of the audience indicated they were happy to do, in her current survey to gather as many views as possible of the public and partners, such as councillors. Members of the public can register their views at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/precept2019.

 

ACC Jackie Sebire and the senior officer responsible for Community Policing, Chief Supt. David Boyle both addressed local issues of concern in the Houghton Regis area, including unauthorised traveller encampments. ACC Sebire confirmed that she receives reports each morning of every illegal encampment in the county, that these are visited very regularly and that motor tax, insurance and MOT compliance are checked for all vehicles, contrary to popular belief, as contravention of these regulations would cross a threshold of criminality which allows police to use their Section 61 powers and move travellers on.

 

Chief Supt. Boyle and DCC Forsyth explained the difference between these police powers, which require a measure of anti social behaviour and criminality to be met in law before they can be used, and the Section 61 powers which would allow police to force travellers to move to a temporary site, if one was provided by Central Bedfordshire Council, with whom the Force is in negotiation concerning this provision.

 

The DCC confirmed that travellers using such a site have to pay a fee to use it which increases every day and also for utilities, which has proved a deterrent in other parts of the country.

 

The meeting was also addressed by (Acting) Inspector Craig Gurr of the town’s Community Hub team, which is shared with neighbouring Dunstable. The Hub currently consists of:-

* 1 Inspector

* 1 Sergeant

* 4 Police Constables

* 5 PCSOs

 

Sgt. Gurr detailed the recent work of the Hub officers, who are dedicated to problem solving in communities and meeting local area priorities set at regular meetings with town councillors and those from Central Bedfordshire Council. He revealed that this work has included the successful closure of a crack house in the town, six warrants since April to counter those dealing in cannabis and other drugs and successful action to deal with the problem of street drinkers, including fixed penalty notices to shops and off licences selling alcohol to those who are already inebriated. He also stressed the need for the community to pass on intelligence to police to alert them to drug dealing and other issues. The next Local Area Priority setting meeting will be on January 28.

 

He also pointed to the problems facing police in dealing with drug dealers and nuisance motorcyclists who use the local busway, cycle paths and a warren of hiding spaces in older social housing developments to escape or hide from view and the need for the community to work closely with police to counter this.

 

Chief Supt. Boyle stressed that those wishing to pass on information entirely anonymously concerning matters such as names, vehicles and registration numbers of those involved, could do so via the confidential Crimestoppers number - 0800 555 111 - where callers are untraceable. 

 

Commissioner Holloway pointed to the success of the new Facebook page, Dunstable and Houghton Regis Community Policing Team, with posts reaching  4,792 in one recent case.

 

“If you want to know what your Community Hub team is up to, working on your behalf day after day, please take a look on Facebook rather than listening to rumour and speculation. Where reporting crime is concerned, please don’t think that posting your comments about crime and anti social behaviour on other Facebook sites is the same as reporting it to police. Please call them on 101, or 999 if it’s a life-threatening matter of course,” she said.

 

DCC Forsyth said he understood it could be frustrating to face delays on 101 at peak times but that Bedfordshire Police compares very favourably with the performance of other forces in terms of the total number of calls and the time taken to answer them on this national call line number.

 

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PCC launches consultation on change to precept to boost the frontline
As you may be aware I have consistently informed those in the highest position in our Government and the public in Bedfordshire that the level of funding and, therefore, police officers we have in Bedfordshire Police are far too low for the level and type of demand we face in protecting the public. The Chief Constable is operating with approximately 380 less officers than he needs. To address this balance, I am consulting with you to understand whether or not you would be prepared to contribute an extra £2 per month through your Council Tax to increase the number of officers the Chief Constable would have to police Bedfordshire and create further capacity in his ability to protect the public of Bedfordshire. I intend to fund recruitment of 160 officers in 2019/20 with these funds.  

I would like to invite you to share your opinion on this decision by completing a short survey - https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/precept2019
 
The results will be collated and presented to the Police and Crime Panel on 5 February 2019 which is the authoritative body which holds the Police and Crime Commissioner to account.
 
I appreciate your time and consideration regarding this issue and look forward to receiving your response.

Kathryn Holloway

 
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One week left to apply for Bedfordshire PCC's Grant Fund
With just seven days left to apply, organisations which run projects preventing offending, protecting communities and supporting victims of crime to cope, recover and move forward are being urged to submit their application for the PCC’s Grant Fund now.

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, launched the 2019/20 Grant Fund application process at the beginning of December, and the window of opportunity is due to close on Friday 11 January. The PCC’s Grant Fund of approximately £1.6m is created by combining a grant from the Ministry of Justice and funding from the Bedfordshire Police Force budget which produces a flexible and accessible grant opportunity aimed at promoting innovative and collaborative working across Bedfordshire. 

“I’m particularly interested in projects from within communities themselves rather than all the 'usual suspects’ to tackle gang, gun and knife crime and in the principle of early intervention with very young children to help them become more resilient and go on to play a full part in society if faced with all the adverse early experiences including living in households where there is domestic abuse, drug and alcohol addiction and poverty where their development is neglected,” said Commissioner Holloway.

“My office will help with advice if people have never applied for a grant like this before and the grant can be for any sum from £50 to £50,000 if the idea and evidence are good enough. 

“Where established organisations are concerned, I will fund projects where I am not the only one making the investment since properly joined up working means more than one organisation putting its hands in its pockets and developing a service together,” said the PCC.

Last year, the Commissioner funded an enhanced new service for all victims of crime in Bedfordshire, called Signpost. The free and confidential service is a one-stop-shop for all the information a victim of crime needs to know. Signpost consists of a call centre of specialist Victim Care Coordinators, available on freephone 0800 0282 887, running six days a week (Monday to Friday 8am – 8pm, Saturday 9am – 5pm). Signpost also has an online directory of all support services for those affected by different crimes (and a section telling them what will happen next if they report these crimes to the police) at signpostforbedfordshire.com.

Signpost contacts victims of a crime within 24 hours where officers believe they may benefit from extra support and aims to give first class support and care to both victims and those also affected by crime, such as partners, children or parents. It also provides access to Restorative Justice, which brings those harmed by crime and those responsible for the harm together, often face to face in a safe environment, enabling those affected by a particular incident to express their views of what the crime meant to them and to find a more positive way forward. The new service provided help to more victims than were said to have been assisted by its predecessor over the whole of the last year, in just two months from its launch on 1 April 2018.

“I’m absolutely delighted by the success of the Signpost service which has quite literally transformed the services for victims in Bedfordshire. This coming year I intend to repeat this model - of an online directory of all services and a one-stop-shop of specialist advisors to work with offenders this time, to try to give genuine assistance to those emerging from prison to avoid setting them up for failure on release. This service will be called Direction and we aim to launch in the Spring,” said Commissioner Holloway.

The PCC has commissioned multiple organisations supporting victims of Domestic Abuse and Child Sexual Exploitation and other crimes against women and children such as Female Genital Mutilation and Forced Marriage. In 2018-19, Commissioner Holloway also funded organisations such as the Anne Frank Trust to work in schools across the county to combat prejudice and prevent Hate Crime through the story of Anne Frank and established Bedfordshire’s first dedicated counselling service to help male victims of sexual and domestic abuse. 

The Commissioning Fund is now open and details can be found in the Campaigns and Initiatives section of the OPCC website,
www.bedfordshire.pcc.police.uk under Funding Opportunities. Applications close on Friday 11 January 2019 at 5pm. If you have any questions, please contact the OPCC on 01234 842064 or email PCC-Commissioning@Bedfordshire.pnn.police.uk.
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