Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner -  
01234 842208
Funding to tackle serious youth violence making an impact

More than six kilos of drugs and £130,000 in criminal cash have been taken off the streets as the direct result of a Government grant for Bedfordshire Police to tackle serious youth violence.
 
Activity funded by the £1.38 million surge funding money has also enabled officers on gang patrols to make 145 arrests and secure jail terms of more than 30 years.
 
Bedfordshire Police were one of 18 police forces with particularly high demand which were handed
funding from the Home Office in April to tackle gun and knife crime involving young people.

National figures released this week show that serious knife crime offences increased by around 25% in the 12 months to September in the county, compared to the previous year.
 
As a direct result of the targeted funding to tackle this issue, officers have been able to…
 
- Seize dozens of weapons including more than 25 knives as well as firearms
- Recover 2.5 kilos of Class A and four kilos of Class B drugs
- Seize around £133,000 in criminal cash
- Make 145 arrests for offences including attempted murder, grievous bodily harm, robbery, arson and possession with intent to supply drugs
- Secure prison sentences for 18 people totalling 30 years and four months

- Run almost 100 Operation Sparkler patrols to tackle gang activity, as well as other operations targeting serious youth violence
- Execute 48 warrants
- Carry out 393 stop searches

Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, said: “The policing achievements as a result of the uplift funding from the Home Office prove conclusively what more we can achieve when we are given more; that money invested in Bedfordshire Police and, in particular, in relation to our approach to serious youth violence, is a wise investment indeed.

“This pattern started with the £4.571m Special Grant which I won in December 2018, which has led to 200 years of prison terms by doubling the Force’s specialist unit - Op Boson - to create one Boson team for the north to mirror that in the south of the county, which the Policing Minister has promised in writing to repeat this financial year, given their effectiveness.

“The input of Bedfordshire Police’s Assistant Chief Constable, Jackie Sebire, cannot be under-estimated in helping to achieve the subsequent £1.38m uplift investment and also £880,000 to set up the county’s Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU), co-locating partners from local authorities and drawing together youth offending services, health and charities to tackle youth violence.

“I may be able to robustly put our argument to politicians but Jackie heads up the operational delivery on the ground which is producing these exceptional results.

“Admissions for knife crimes to our hospitals are plateauing out, the most serious offenders are being put away and individuals actively diverted from gang activity. This is policing that is working." 

The surge funding money has enabled Bedfordshire Police to carry out more innovative tactics around enforcement to target those involved in serious youth violence. 

Justice McCann, 22, of Ravenhill Way, Luton, was jailed for 22-and-a-half years, with an extended five years on licence, last week after shooting a man in the chest. 

Fast track forensics paid for by the grant identified McCann’s fingerprints on both the victim’s car and on the weapon. 

This ensured he was identified as the prime suspect within 24 hours of the shooting taking place. 

Further use of fast track forensics has helped in prosecutions around the supply of guns, as well as to quickly identify fingerprints on knives and tasers to ensure offenders are swiftly brought to justice. 

Part of this funding has also been used to support the force in securing drug dealing telecommunication restriction orders (DDTROs), where phone lines linked to drug dealing can be shut down. 

The force has so far shut down 14 phone lines using DDTROs. 

Other projects have included boosting the force’s research and analytical capacity to better understand the problem of serious youth violence, including on platforms such as social media. 

Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire, the national lead for serious youth violence, said: “This funding has played a huge part in some fantastic work we are doing to tackle this issue and protect our young people. 

“The commissioner has been instrumental in securing various funding sources for Bedfordshire and these results speak for themselves. We are unquestionably in a better position now to tackle serious youth violence than we were before we received this grant. 

“While all this enforcement activity is a significant element in our strategy to reduce serious violence, sustained reductions will only come through prevention and diversion. 

“It is the separate funding for the Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) that is most important in solving this issue for the longer term.”

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PCC shares news of a 49% cut in Anti-Social Behaviour with Houghton Regis Town Council at public meeting
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, held her first public surgery of the new year for the residents of Houghton Regis (Monday 20th January 2020), announcing a dramatic decrease in Anti-Social Behaviour in the town by almost half since this time last year.
 
The PCC credited the excellent partnership approach the council has taken to working with Bedfordshire Police’s local Community Policing Hub for the 49% fall in such crime.  
 
Accompanied by the head of the Force's Houghton Regis Community Policing Hub, Insp Craig Gurr, the Commissioner said: “This town council shows how every council of its type in the county can achieve results for residents by working more closely in partnership. It holds a monthly Combatting Crime Group with police from the Community Hub and helps pass on crime information and even to guide mobile CCTV cameras into the most useful spots in relation to current issues. I’ve singled them out before in my annual reports but the slashing of Anti-Social Behaviour by almost half on last year shows, yet again, that this approach works."
 
The Commissioner opened her address to the Town Council with other good news, amounting to a return of a further visible police presence in the town.
 
She explained that Bedfordshire Police’s new Neighbourhood Enforcement Team (NET), comprised of a Sergeant and nine Police Constables is now being based at the former Houghton Regis Police Station and will be at full strength by April 2020. This team is designed to flex around the county as a trouble shooting taskforce to help stamp out pernicious crime problems emerging at neighbourhood level in support of the local Community Hubs.
 
Insp Craig Gurr also updated the Houghton Regis Town Council on recent successful policing operations in the town under the title Operation Paxton, which targeted an emerging gang in the town involved in rivalry with another from the Lewsey Farm area of Luton, which has led to individuals now going through the criminal justice process in relation to the firing of a shotgun and two stabbings, plus the successful resettlement of a family out of the county.
 
The Commissioner also shared the decision to locate Bedfordshire’s new Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) at Houghton Regis Police Station too, saying, “The VERU is here to co-locate police, local authority, youth offending and partner services working specifically to stamp out Serious Youth Violence and links to Organised Crime Groups around knife and gun use. There are £350,000 worth of grants going out to community groups that have been distributed by the VERU as we want communities themselves to suggest the best solutions for their own young people.”
 
Commissioner Holloway went on to explain the focus of the £4.571 million Special Grant she achieved from the Home Office last year explaining “The Special Grant helped me support the Chief Constable in literally doubling the response to gang crime in this county through Operation Boson, by creating a second team for the north of the county, to mirror that in the south, which has produced huge measurable results including 200 years of prison terms, when taken together with the outcome of the more recent £1.38m grant for an uplift in policing of Serious Youth Violence in Bedfordshire.
 
“We are finally seeing a plateauing off of knife crime admissions to our two A&E departments; in Luton and in Bedford, although any singe admission is one too many."

Community Inspector Craig Gurr stated “The Community Team have always had an excellent working relationship with Houghton Regis Town Council, and in particular the Combatting Crime Working Group. This has paid dividends in terms of producing some significant results in the reduction of both anti-social behaviour and the more serious criminality which effects the quality of life of local residents and serves as a model of partnership working”.
 
Houghton Regis Town Council welcomed the updates from the Commissioner and took the opportunity to thank her for her "significant contribution to policing in the county over the past four years".
 
Councillor Susan Goodchild said “I would like to thank the Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, and her team for the public surgery held in Houghton Regis. The benefit of this level of engagement and the wide range of expertise and experience in the room was evident. Bringing together local, regional and national partners in delivering innovative early intervention and preventive projects, protecting our communities and the most vulnerable is greatly appreciated”.
 
Commissioner Holloway has been holding a series of surgeries with the public around the county, followed by meetings with local town councils, with such events having already taken place in Bedford, Luton, Leighton Buzzard, Shefford and Biggleswade. The next public surgery is due to take place in Sandy on Monday 24th February 2020. 
 
For a full breakdown of public meetings and information on how to book a session with the PCC, please visit the website 
https://www.bedfordshire.pcc.police.uk/general.php?id=277 to register.

 
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'Biggest funding boost in a decade’ welcomed by Bedfordshire Police

Bedfordshire Police has welcomed the latest police funding settlement from the Government, dubbed by Home Secretary Priti Patel as the ‘biggest funding boost in a decade’.

The 2020/21 settlement announcement set out an additional £1.1billion of funding to all forces – should Police and Crime Commissioners take full advantage of raising the police precept element of council tax by £10 for a Band D home. It is designed to assist with the uplift of 20,000 new officers nationally and was announced in Parliament today (Wednesday).

For Bedfordshire, the new deal could see an increase of around £9million to its budget for 2020/21 – to £121.9m. The boost will help ensure funds can be invested where they are needed most; in extra officers on the county’s stretched frontline.

Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway said: “Today’s funding settlement is welcome but still requires me to raise the police precept by the maximum allowed without a referendum, of £10 a year for a Band D home - or 84p per month - in order to achieve another £9m for Bedfordshire Police.

"This will allow me to recruit 156 more Police Constables this year, of whom 36 are our share of the national uplift in 2020/21 and 100 are needed to replace leavers but which also allows me to fund 20 additional PCs. (The core grant from Government also includes payment for 18 extra officers who were recruited in the financial year 2019/20 as the first part of the national uplift.)

“There had been rumours that the core grant from Government was going to stand still. If this had been the case I would have had to find some £6m of savings so the extra investment is a relief. It allows me to meet the pressures of pay, pensions, insurance and other rising costs and still deliver the recruitment that both I and central Government had promised.

“I’m also expecting further good news on funding imminently as both the current Policing Minister, Kit Malthouse, and former Minister, Nick Hurd, have pledged in writing to provide me with a second Special Grant this year, to pay for the specialist response of Bedfordshire Police to gang, gun and knife crime in the county, known as Boson."

The PCC was previously given a £4.571m Special Grant for Bedfordshire Police for 2018/19 to pay for Boson, allowing it to be doubled with a permanent unit in the north as well as the south of the county.

Chief Constable Garry Forsyth also welcomed the news, saying: “Today’s announcement is long overdue for policing.

“It has been our case, for some time, that Bedfordshire Police is not properly funded to meet the complex crime challenges we face. While we continue to lobby for changes to the wider funding formula to ensure we are adequately resourced to meet those challenges and be proactive in preventing crime, we hope today’s announcement will mean we are able to properly invest in a new generation of officers our public so desperately want to see.

“We are committed to delivering our part in the national uplift of police officers and these additional funds will be crucial to ensuring we have the necessary infrastructure to attract, train and develop this growing frontline throughout their policing careers.

“It could also assist us in laying the foundations to help plug the gaps in the investigation and prevention of serious and complex crimes associated with the exploitation of the young and vulnerable in Bedfordshire.”

Making the settlement announcement, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “This Government is delivering on the people’s priorities by giving policing the biggest funding increase in a decade.

“It will mean more officers tackling the crime blighting our streets, so people can feel safe in their communities.

“The police must now make full use of this significant investment to deliver for the public.”

The force will continue to work alongside the Home Office with regard to further details of funding in respect of the 2020/21 budget; in particular the second Special Grant promised to the PCC.

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The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) would like your input for the Precept Consultation.

We have been informed that the financial picture for Policing across the country has now been shared.

 

The OPCC routinely consults the public on the precept for council tax, allowing approximately a month for the consultation, however the announcement has been delayed. This only gives 9 days for the OPCC to survey on this specific topic.

 

Please could we ask for you to fill in the below survey prior to the 31st January 2020:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Z8Q3VBK

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Bedfordshire Police opens its doors for largest recruitment drive in years
Those looking to make a fresh start in 2020 can find out more about a policing career at an information evening this month.

Bedfordshire Police is opening its doors to those interested in joining the police service on Thursday 30 January, and you can book your place by email now.

The force is encouraging people to become one of the 20,000 new police officers driven by the Home Office national uplift  and join Bedfordshire Police in its largest recruitment drive for years.

Bedfordshire is a friendly family force with all of the complex policing challenges of a metropolitan area, including tackling serious organised crime and protecting the most vulnerable in our communities.

Throughout 2019, the force received well over 100,000 999 and more than 200,000 101 calls. 

Last year the force also made more than 8,000 arrests and secured hundreds of years’ worth of jail time for offenders, taking the most dangerous people off the streets.

Deputy Chief Constable Trevor Rodenhurst said: “We are a small and busy force that offers a lot of experience due to the wide range of policing challenges we see compared our policing counterparts, which makes us unique. 

“At Bedfordshire Police you are not just a number, you will develop with the close knit team that surrounds you and there will always be someone to support you through the ups and downs of policing.

“If you’re looking for a truly rewarding career where you will grow and develop with multiple opportunities to specialise, join us as an officer.”

PC Hayley Hunter will be present at the information evening to answer any questions about a policing career. She said:

“Being a police officer brings a great sense of pride. We are a vital resource the community can call upon in time of need. We help people during some of their darkest moments and keep Bedfordshire safe by taking criminals off the streets. 

“New officer recruits will join on a two year probation, and once they graduate they are able to develop within Bedfordshire Police, including specialising as a detective or in firearms, roads policing, counter terrorism or in digital and cybercrime, to name but a few!

“Every shift is different, we tackle new challenges with a mix of people every day. It is a demanding role, but very rewarding when we can make a real impact on someone’s life.”

New recruits can expect to receive a high level of training and support from colleagues, trainers and the various police support networks that are set up to support colleagues both during their probation and throughout their service. 

If you are looking for a rewarding role, where you are constantly learning something new and surrounded by a supportive team, apply for the role at
www.bedfordshire.police.uk/careers 

To book a place on our information evening at Bedfordshire Police Headquarters in Woburn Road, Kempston on 30 January, please email your interest or any questions to
r.recruitment@bedfordshire.pnn.police.uk.

 
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PCC calls for higher penalties for those assaulting police after BBC features PC with leg broken after being rammed by a car and asks for body-worn video to be shown to magistrates as proof of violence to achieve higher sentences

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has appealed for the law to support front-line police officers with greater penalties, following the broadcast of BBC One’s ‘Critical Incident’, which featured PC Hayley Robinson, a Bedfordshire officer whose leg was broken when a suspect deliberately rammed her car.

PC Robinson was injured while responding to reports of concern for an 18-year-old woman in Sandy in April 2018. During the incident, PC Robinson and a colleague encountered a young driver of an Audi A5 which then drove at them. The officers attempted to take cover in their marked police vehicle before they were hit. The collision caused serious injury to PC Robinson, breaking her leg, while the second officer was unhurt.

After evading police and leaving the county, the teenage driver was eventually caught four months later in Essex and was jailed for two years in October 2018. The incident was broadcast on national BBC television on Monday (13 January) in an episode of ‘Critical Incident’ which highlights offences against police officers.

“Prime time television programmes like ‘Critical Incident’ show the reality of what our officers encounter on the streets of our county on a daily basis and it was a miracle that Hayley and her colleague were not even more seriously injured. It’s not as though we can say this is a one-off. Before Christmas the Chief Constable, Garry Forsyth, and I appealed for those celebrating, and therefore partying and drinking more, not to take this out on the police officers trying to keep them safe. Yet, in just 11 days this Christmas, 14 officers were assaulted in the execution of their duties. How can that be acceptable?

“It's my firm belief that an attack on a police officer is not the same as an assault on any other member of the public, because the police are the front-line between those who keep the law and those who seek to break it. Any attack on a police officer should be met with the toughest penalties,” said Commissioner Holloway.

“Even though the law governing assaults on emergency workers was recently raised to a year’s imprisonment from six months, this is still insufficient to act as the sort of deterrent which will stop this violence from happening. Where Hayley is concerned, she is a quite exemplary officer from all the accounts of colleagues and she is still within the Force but I can entirely understand why any officer would wish to stop working in policing or find themselves under pressure to quit from partners and children. We need to provide a greater umbrella of protection for them and we need to do it now,” said the PCC.

The Commissioner recently met with a representative of Bedfordshire’s magistrates to urge them to view footage from officers’ body worn video of assaults to get the true picture before sentencing.

“When those who assault officers turn up in court they have usually sobered up and put on a suit and are totally unrecognisable from the thug who lashed out at a Bedfordshire Police officer. They’ve also been shown the body worn video themselves and have concluded that it’s pointless to do anything other than to plead guilty. What happens next is that the busy prosecutor simply describes the attack for magistrates. It’s my firm belief that if they saw it for themselves they would have a far clearer idea of how unacceptable the violence actually was which could affect sentencing. That's absolutely possible as it’s what is done in some other police force areas, like Avon and Somerset. I’m very pleased to say that the responses I have had from both the magistrates here and from the Chief Constable were very supportive of this."

Bedfordshire Police also enhanced the support for officers following an assault by introducing ‘Maggie’s Law’, which is named after the daughter of PC Jon Henry, who was killed on duty in Luton in June 2007. Anyone who is assaulted while on duty receives direct contact from a member of the chief officer team to check on their welfare and to offer any support which is needed.

Officers are urged to complete Victim Impact Statements for the courts to consider at the time of sentencing and the Chief Constable also completes an Impact Statement to reinforce the officer’s own.

Chief Constable Garry Forsyth said: “Police officers run towards danger when others might turn the other way. That selfless, public duty is imperative in policing, and it is only right that they are given protection by the courts.

“Bedfordshire Police is committed to supporting our officers and staff and shows an enhanced duty of care, with every assaulted officer given personal contact from a chief officer, and they are provided with a supporting statement for court.

“As we encourage more people to join policing with the national uplift, it is crucial that they understand the support the Force gives to our officers and staff. We will not tolerate any assault on our workforce.”

Bedfordshire Police is set to recruit an additional 54 officers by 2021 in the first phase of the national drive to bring in 20,000 more officers over the next three years. This is in on top of those being recruited to fill existing vacancies and an extra 60 Police Constables being created this financial year through the Commissioner's council tax precept rise and Home Office funding.

The PCC has also been instrumental in securing Government grants worth more than £8million since 2018 to tackle gun and gang crime and maintain recruitment which would otherwise have had to stop and continues to lobby for a fairer funding deal for the county, to add to its stretched front-line.

Commissioner Holloway said: "Policing continues to face unprecedented demands, more so than ever before. That demand far outstrips the resources we have in Bedfordshire, so I consider the protection of our officers, in order to provide a service and protect the public, as the highest priority and have worked throughout my term with the Police Federation to support its ‘Protect the Protectors’ Campaign wherever I can.

“I made it a genuine priority, set out in my Police and Crime Plan for the county, to show an enhanced duty of care to our officers and staff and, as a result, I am committed to ensuring officers are protected. I fully support the Police Federation campaign, which saw a new law coming into effect in November 2018 doubling the maximum sentence for assaults on police officers and other emergency service workers but, as I say, the penalties need to be higher still.

“It's imperative that the courts hand down the strongest punishments possible for assaults on police officers, both as a deterrent and to ensure emergency workers are treated with the respect they deserve.”

Chairman of Bedfordshire Police Federation, Jim Mallen said: "For too long police officers have become the physical and verbal punch bags of society. The sheer number of assaults and levels of violence that police officers face is now beyond the pale. Dozens of men and women are working on the front-line and being assaulted every single day.

"Our courts should be handing out appropriate sentences for perpetrators who choose to attack police officers. The punishment must fit the crime and police officers must have faith in the Criminal Justice System. As a society we need to protect the protectors."

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Network of leaders from across Bedfordshire working to end violence and exploitation of young people showcases the work of new ground-breaking unit to the Home Office

Police and youth leaders behind Bedfordshire’s new Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) have unveiled their plans to Home Office visitors after an £880,000 grant to help them end youth violence in the county.
 
Roseann Taylor, whose son Azaan Kaleem was stabbed to death in Luton last year, was among those to give presentations to Government officials on Wednesday as part of a visit organised by the new VERU partnership team.
 
The VERU is creating a network of different agencies, projects and community groups to tackle the root causes of violence to put an end to young people being exploited into committing crime, carrying knives and becoming involved in gangs.
 
The officials were given a tour of the A&E department at Luton & Dunstable Hospital, where they were told about the impact of gun and knife crime on their services.

They also heard from a young person who has accessed a number of services in the county voicing what young people themselves would like to see made available to help others who are at risk.
 
Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway and Bedfordshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire, the national police lead for serious youth violence, also gave presentations during Wednesday’s event.

The £880,000 fund to create the VERU has been awarded by the Home Office to the PCC and is run by her office. ACC Sebire takes responsibility for police involvement with the unit and its set up.

The PCC told the Home Office team: “What makes Bedfordshire different is that we genuinely had all the ducks in a row with partners who just needed the funding to release staff and come together to look at the problem of serious youth violence as one of exploitation of young people, grooming them into gangs and creating fear which drives many to carry knives.

"The Youth Offending Service have been talking about this for almost two years and the lead of the VERU, Kimberley Lamb, and I have been talking about the impact of adverse childhood experiences on those who are 10 and under for longer. We now have the chance to address this thanks to your funding and we couldn’t be more grateful."

ACC Sebire said : “It's fantastic to see months of hard work and planning starting to come to fruition.

"We have a really ambitious vision for our VERU and I know professionals and grassroots groups across Bedfordshire are all pulling together to make it a success.  

“I really believe this is the key vehicle through which we can have a transformative impact on the lives of our young people, reduce violence and prevent them from being criminally exploited.”  

The PCC and Assistant Chief Constable were joined by key partners involved in the VERU, with representatives explaining the work they are doing in this area and how the VERU can help.

This included the Luton Youth Offending Service, Bedford Community Safety Partnership, Mary Seacole Housing Association, a public health specialist and alternative education providers.

The PCC told an official who asked how long VERUs would need to be funded before they became ‘business as usual’: “The genuine answer is at least 25 years as only by funding this work for a generation until the next children have been born will you know whether it has been able to break the cycle of violence."  

The Bedfordshire VERU is one of 18 similar units being funded by the Home Office across the country. Bedfordshire’s is the only one to have the word ‘exploitation’ in its title and to make this a feature of its approach since victims and offenders are a constantly inter-changeable group among young people involved in serious violence.  

The Home Office is awarding some £400,000 to approximately 35 different projects across the county which can divert young people away from criminality. These projects will be delivered by both statutory agencies as well as community groups.  

Full details of these projects will be announced in the coming weeks, once the grants have been finalised.  

The VERU will also be delivering its own work, creating a long term and sustainable system to address and respond to these issues.  

Kimberley Lamb, head of the VERU, said: “I was really pleased to showcase all the fantastic work of the VERU and our partners to the Home Office.

"I truly believe that the VERU is on the cusp of starting something genuinely transformational for the lives of young people across the county. The hard work starts now though and I really hope that everyone can support us over the coming months.”

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PCC explains grant priorities for year ahead at network Annual Partnership Day event
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway invited over 100 partners from across Bedfordshire to learn of the priorities of her £1.6m grant fund and share their own work with one another at her annual Partners’ Conference.

The Commissioner explained to the audience at Cranfield University (on Tuesday 11 December 2019) that her focus for grants would be on early intervention for 10-13-year-olds to divert them away from gang membership and knife carrying, including an emphasis on out of school activities, plus the rehabilitation of repeat offenders responsible for a rise in Domestic Abuse countywide over the recent past.

“I need organisations to ask young people themselves what they would actually want to do outside school and make the range of activities wider than simply sports. I’ve been hugely impressed by one Bedford charity which has already consulted pupils in one middle school where more than forty languages are spoken, in an area which is a hotspot for gang grooming and recruitment, and which has had some answers they didn’t expect including children asking for Pilates and Yoga classes.

“We need everything from football teams to drama classes to cookery as well. This has to be provided countywide, which means several organisations getting together at locations across Bedfordshire and, realistically, the local authorities will also need to be involved as I haven’t got the funds to do this on my own.

“Where Domestic Abuse is concerned, we have to be honest: what organisations have been offering by way of providing services has created duplication in some areas and gaps in others but, even more importantly, it’s not working where repeat offenders are concerned and they’re the very ones who are responsible for the greatest rise in this crime,” PCC Holloway told the audience.

The PCC then handed over the stage to 26 partners for quick fire presentations to give them a platform to share their work and network.
“We gave over the event to presenters showcasing projects such as the new Family Drug and Alcohol Courts which bring a parent with addiction together for regular meetings with a judge and a rehabilitation programme proven to have a 50% better chance of getting them away from that addiction and keeping families together five years on to the creators of an app which monitors phone content in real time to warn children of its dangers to Reactive8 who work for me in Bedford Prison on both sides of the door around release to help change the mind-set of prisoners to Luton All Women’s Centre’s work around harmful practises such as Female Genital Mutilation in hard to reach communities.

“It was a whistle stop tour of the best work I am able to fund now and the opportunities to link this into other organisations who may not otherwise be aware of these ground breaking projects and the quite incredible partners who are delivering it,” said Commissioner Holloway.

The PCC stressed that, to qualify for her grants, she needed to see more than one organisation working together, that they must deliver services across the whole county for fair access and that more than one body needs to be involved in the funding to build in greater sustainability.
 
She also confirmed that she will not be spending the entire grant allocation of £1.6m but keeping back £300k for spending by whoever is PCC after the May 2020 election.

Almost all of her commissioned services for 2019 - 2020 were in attendance, along with other local organisations from Bedfordshire and some national and international bodies including supporters of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Campaign ‘UNiTE by 2030’ which is designed to end violence against women and girls.

The UN's 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign that takes place each year. It started on 25 November with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, running to its 10 Human Rights Day on 10 December. For this, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner invited a local group of residents to bring their UN-inspired art installation to help spread the message of the campaign. The ‘Our House’ Art Installation is a small house featuring a range of survivor’s stories with the theme #LookAtMeNow

OPCC Chief Executive, Clare Kelly, said “We will also be hearing today about campaigns running to support male victims of domestic violence and organisations who want to work across all of Bedfordshire so victims do not receive a postcode lottery service.”

The ‘Open Mic’ sessions at the event, where organisations showcased their work included PCC-funded organisations and visitors:
Family Drug and Alcohol Courts (FDAC) - where judges and support workers work with parents to combat addiction and keep their children in care proceedings
ACES - describing a booklet for schools and youth groups designed to mitigate the effects of adverse early childhood experiences
Safetonet - with their mobile phone app to protect children from harmful content
UNSEEN - the charity working to combat Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery
Reactiv8 - working with prisoners before and after release to help them to change their own views of themselves
Direction for Bedfordshire - the PCC-funded service providing a website and support staff to assist prisoners on release -
https://directionforbedfordshire.co.uk/ - Contact number 01582 721010
Luton All Womens Centre - on working with communities where harmful practises like FGM take place
Bedfordshire Police Organised Crime Tactical Advisor - giving information to partners about known Organised Crime Groups
Anne Frank’s Trust - working in schools to combat hate crime
Families First - working with both male and female victims of domestic abuse
Counselling Foundation - offering one to one support
FACES - supporting families in Bedford and devising out of school activities
Wicketz - gang and crime diversion through cricket
Mary Seacole - offering housing support to young people
Revive Project - Somali community groups who are based at two locations in Luton who support young people and their parents with varying issues. The organisations are keen to support their young with early intervention initiatives.
Neighbourhood Watch - helping police to keep neighbourhoods safe and pass on crime intelligence for action
Bedford Open Door - counselling young people
Att10tive - youth work and positive role modelling
Kooth - XenZone is a provider of online mental health services for children, young people and adults. Kooth, from XenZone, is an online counselling and emotional well-being platform for children and young people, accessible through mobile, tablet and desktop and free at the point of use.
Signpost Victim Support Hub - a service set up by the PCC to help all those requiring support following a crime.

Victoria Marlin from Signpost explained how other partners can get involved with Signpost; ‘The Signpost Hub provides free and confidential support to anyone affected by crime. We refer the residents of Bedfordshire to specialised services which are appropriate for them. The Hub has been up and running for well over 18 months now and we are currently conducting a review where we are seeking to ensure our service remains current and meets the needs of victims precisely. Continuous improvement has to be the only way ahead when designing services for victims and we need your feedback and involvement in referrals for that.’
https://www.signpostforbedfordshire.com/ - Freephone number: 0800 0282 887

More information on applying to the PCC’s Grant Fund can be found at
https://www.bedfordshire.pcc.police.uk/ in the Campaigns & Funding section under the heading PCC’s Grant Fund, alternatively it can be accessed at: https://www.bedfordshire.pcc.police.uk/bedfordshire-pcc-grants-funding

Applications close on 10 January 2020.

 
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PCC and farmers get together to stamp out rural crime in Bedfordshire

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway teamed up with the National Farmers Union (NFU) and Bedfordshire Police to fight rural crime in Bedfordshire in a tactics and planning session to "stamp out crime that takes place because of its country location". 

 

The event at Scald Farm in North Bedfordshire on Tuesday 19th November 2019 was the third annual conference held by the PCC with the NFU, working together to make full use of the farming community’s network and local knowledge, as well as promoting better coordination, planning and information sharing to tackle crime. The aim of the event was to share knowledge and to plan a coordinated strategy for the upcoming year, with commitments from each group over the specific actions they will be taking. 

 

The PCC was accompanied by Bedfordshire’s Chief Constable, Garry Forsyth, and members of Bedfordshire Police's rural crime team, which is now the largest in the whole of the seven force Eastern region.

 

Commissioner Holloway said “My Police and Crime Plan specifies as a priority that we must give a fair share of policing to those who live in the country, just as we do to those who live in our towns so it’s absolutely imperative that we work with farmers and residents of rural parishes and produce a consistent approach from policing to crimes which take place because they occur in these locations.”

 

She pointed out that certain crimes in the country require specialist knowledge from officers encountering them, such as illegal hunting, hunt saboteur activity and hare coursing which the rural crime team is working to spread on a force wide basis. 

 

The PCC introduced members of Bedfordshire Police’s rural crime specialist team, known as Op Sentinel Rural, and explained that police need farmers to stand by them and give evidence after police action such as a recent countywide crackdown on hare coursers. 

 

The event also publicised the launch of the Force's new rural crime handbook, put together by its Crime Reduction Officer, with contributions from partners including the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), the Environment Agency, the Home Office and local farmers. The handbook contains advice on crimes which affect Bedfordshire’s rural communities and how to recognise emerging crime types such as modern day slavery. 

 

 "Targeted operations concerning cars and vans that haven’t been appropriately insured, taxed or which are without MOTs, have deprived those involved in criminality in the countryside of the use of the road. We’ve worked with neighbouring forces and have focused on matters such as hare coursing together to prevent damage to crops and the illegal betting of tens of thousands of pounds on the outcomes,” said the PCC.

 

Chief Constable Garry Forsyth explained the wider demands of Bedfordshire Police, including details of the drugs mapping exercise carried out by the Force which had established that the Bedfordshire market for heroin and cocaine alone was equal to the entire force budget per year.

 

Oliver Rubinstein, from the NFU, said: “Rural crime is an enormous issue for farmers in Bedfordshire and nationally is estimated to have cost the UK £50m last year. Unfortunately many farmers have already had to take quite dramatic steps to limit their vulnerability, such as blocking off field entrances and digging ditches, however, this handbook is a valuable resource that we can share with members to help them make sure they’ve taken all the necessary steps.”

 

The PCC also reminded the audience of the anonymous crime reporting line set up by the NFU and Crimestoppers on the freephone line 0800 7830137 and website - www.ruralcrimereportingline.uk.

 

The rural crime team also raised the importance of the ‘What3words’ app. What3words was designed to be able to assign a 3m square to anywhere in the world to identify a location to police and other blue light services in an emergency. Officers explained that this is especially important for the farmers in Bedfordshire in remote rural locations as it allows the force control room to find them in seconds.

 

NFU members committed to using their dedicated WhatsApp group, which passes information to police, to give such details so it does not become over-crowded with comment instead.

 

“Before I became PCC, the NFU promised me that they would become a rural crime intelligence network, in effect, and that’s exactly what they’ve done. They’ve even helped us in operations, linked by radio, to crack down on country crime like hare coursing or fly tipping and we couldn’t do it as we are without them,” said the PCC. 

 

The Rural Crime Team can be contacted by email - opsentinel.rural@Bedfordshire.pnn.police.uk. There is also a WhatsApp group that is open for members of the rural community to join, for more information the team can be contacted on this same email address.

 

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PCC gains change of use planning permission for Greyfriars police station to achieve "the top price possible"

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has won outline planning permission which should settle the future of Greyfriars Police Station in central Bedford once and for all.

 

She addressed a meeting of Bedford Borough Council’s Planning Committee, at Borough Hall (on Monday 25 November 2019) to explain that Bedfordshire Police, its architects and planning officers had been working closely together for a year to come up with a scheme that fitted the council’s plan for the town centre and neighbourhood, yet which allowed her to gain the maximum amount from the sale, for the public and policing.

 

“I have a statutory responsibility to get the best possible price for Greyfriars for the public purse and everyone knows that a site that is sold with planning permission already agreed, on an outline basis, is worth more,” said the Commissioner.

 

“We went back with a second proposal after planning officers suggested that the first version had too many storeys and we now have a plan that mixes the homes that are so desperately needed in the Bedford area with the sort of lively street level facility which planners wanted us to include. I cannot praise the officers more highly as they worked with us in true cooperation to allow me to sell Greyfriars in a way that preserves part of the building and extends it further and which allows me to get the top price possible.

 

“The sale of Greyfriars has not been like selling a conventional home, for example. We tried an open bid process and some bids were made which were not dependent on planning permission and others required it but, at the end of the day, bidders treated the amounts they’d said they were prepared to pay as if these were negotiable expressions of interest. That wasn’t good enough for me: I need a price I can rely on and the public need me to raise the maximum amount of money possible. It made it a no brainer to go for outline planning permission and it matters so much to me that I even travelled more than a hundred miles back from my annual leave to attend the meeting to try to leave nothing to chance!”, said Commissioner Holloway.

 

The outline permission means that part of the old Greyfriars police station will be converted and the remainder built as a new structure to create a mixed block of 23 flats, including three at ground floor with disabled access, and a ground floor shop or cafe, to add to the street scene in Bedford town centre, as planning officers had required.

 

“They, quite understandably, want the town centre to be a lively place yet, as we heard at the meeting, new housing is needed desperately and the council only has a three year supply plan currently, rather than the five years they need to identify. I’m particularly pleased that access for those who have mobility issues is being included and that the flats will be a mix of one to three bedroom homes,” said PCC Holloway.

 

The money raised from the Greyfriars sale will be used to fund the building of a new custody suite at Kempston Police HQ.

 

 “Money raised from the sale of buildings can only be used on other buildings or capital investment, not on officers, according to public sector spending rules. We have a temporary custody block at the moment at Kempston, serving the north of the county, which needs to be replaced and the sale of Greyfriars will fund this. I fully intend to proceed with the plans concerning this new custody suite as soon as possible in 2020.

 

“Not only that but I intend to sell the temporary custody block when we have a new facility to raise extra funds for Bedfordshire Police,” said the PCC.

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Signpost Hub teams up with Anne Frank Trust to tackle discrimination in schools

Following a successful pilot project at The Linden Academy in Luton, the Signpost Hub and Anne Frank Trust UK will now roll out inputs tackling bullying, discrimination and prejudice in schools across the county using a restorative approach.
 
This week (17 – 24 November) is International Restorative Awareness Week, and the Signpost Hub and Anne Frank Trust UK are working on developing the innovative programme using the feedback given by the school. It is being funded by Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway.
 
During the pilot project, pupils from year five and six were trained to become peer mediators, acting as intermediaries to resolve conflict or disruptive behaviour within the school environment. Staff were also given information on how to implement restorative approaches in the school.
 
A restorative approach in schools can be used to challenge the prejudice and discrimination found in hate incidents or bullying, before they escalate. As facilitators, students will enable those harmed to communicate with the person who caused the harm.
 
Victim Care Co-ordinator Sunya Hussain said: “The training was very well received by the school and their pupils. Using a restorative approach addresses the needs of both parties - the person who has been harmed and the person who caused the harm. If the harmer takes responsibility for their actions and acknowledges the impact this has had on the person who they harmed, it leads to a change of behaviour and the opportunity to make amends.”
 
Kerry Ward, Director of Inclusion and SENDCo at The Linden Academy, added: “Pupils were taught how to use a ‘talking stick’ and ‘circle time’ to develop positive relationships between themselves and improve communication and active listening skills. They were also shown how to use key questions when resolving conflict. It’s going to be a real benefit to the school and our pupils using this new approach to resolving any conflicts.”
 
The Linden Academy pupils are now working with the Signpost Hub and Anne Frank Trust UK to create a toolkit to support the rollout of the project into primary schools. The development and implementation of the project into secondary schools will follow.

Val Ross, Eastern Regional Manager for the Anne Frank Trust, explained: “Training young people in how to use restorative justice approaches is very much in keeping with our educational methodology which seeks to empower young people themselves with the knowledge, skills and confidence to confront and challenge prejudice. We are committed to working with Bedfordshire Police, the Signpost Hub and our partners, including our networks of ambassadors, to create a more cohesive, supportive and positive environment for us all to thrive.”

Commissioner Holloway added: "I’m a huge advocate of restorative justice, as it’s such a powerful process when used in policing in helping victims to get closure after a traumatic time and offenders to understand the impact their actions have had and provides them with the opportunity to make amends. By using this approach in our schools, which promotes tolerance and respect, this will be another massive leap forward in taking a stand against hate in Bedfordshire. Research also shows a restorative approach can help with early intervention, resulting in less exclusions in school as well as avoiding offending later down the line.”

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ERSOU wins at World Class Policing Awards

Deputy Chief Constable Trevor Rodenhurst has praised officers from the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) after they won a prestigious award yesterday (Thursday).

ERSOU were honoured for their work on Operation Polarity; a three year long investigation in to cracking a cyber-attack.

The team worked with the National Crime Agency, the FBI and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) during the investigation.

No operations on this level had ever been attempted before and cybercrime investigation was still in its infancy when the attack occurred.

The team had to deal with an enormous amount of seized data equating to 10 TB (around 50 million pages of A4) and ERSOU led on the work to get this data into a format that would meet Crown Prosecution disclosure requirements.

The awards evening, which was held in London, is the first of its kind and recognised policing work from across the globe. The force was one of 54 finalists, and beat over 100 entries from across the globe. The force were also nominated for a further three operations.

The awards celebrated and acknowledged the best in all aspects of 21st century policing and reflect that effective modern day policing requires partnership and collaboration. The awards also recognised that successful outcomes and developments in policing come from a blend of innovative, committed and well trained personnel, who serve, engage and protect the public, delivering good practice, using technology and systems to police efficiently and effectively.

Deputy Chief Constable Trevor Rodenhurst said: “It was a pleasure to attend the first World Class Policing Awards, and I am extremely proud of the work that went into the investigation that has resulted in this award. 

“The awards evening has shown that there is incredible work going on all over the world to protect members of the public and continue to fight crime.

“I would like to thank everyone who was part of the investigation for their hard work during the investigation.”

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PCC pledges almost £100,000 to new court to revolutionise the lives of families with drug and alcohol problems - with a 50% better chance of keeping children and parents together and freeing parents from addictions.

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has become the first PCC in the country to fund Family, Drug and Alcohol Courts (FDACs) which have been proven to be 50% better than any other method of care proceedings at helping parents to shake off addiction and retain care of their children five years on. 

Commissioner Holloway has agreed to provide £50,000 of funding and also to pay for a specialist Domestic Abuse Expert to support parents attending the Family Drug and Alcohol Court.

She also provided the lead Judge - Judge Patrick Peruško - with the services of her Chief of Staff to help other key partners across Bedfordshire, such as those in the NHS, Public Health, Mental Health services and Safeguarding leads of the three local authorities to work together to bring all these parties into partnership to fund and support the unique FDAC process.

Family Drug and Alcohol Courts require a parent with addiction to agree a formal rehabilitation plan and work very regularly with the Family Court Judge and an FDAC team of specialists over a 26 week period, to address their behaviour and build better relationships with both their children and themselves.

“It’s fair to say that Judge Peruško had me convinced and signing on the dotted line where financial support was required within the first hour of meeting me. What was absolutely obvious was not only that Patrick was full of energy and a real passion for the benefits but, having run the Family Drug and Alcohol Courts in Milton Keynes, he’d seen the enormous benefits for himself,” said PCC Holloway.

“Not only that, but Judge Peruško can produce evidence that this process works to lift parents out of addiction and helps them to re-build family life, keeping children in the home where it is safe to do so, as not one but two universities - Lancaster and Brunel - have evaluated the programme and the results speak for themselves,” said the PCC.

Both university studies found that parents, five years on from graduating from the Family Drug and Alcohol Court, where they worked through their problems with a judge and specialist support workers linked to FDAC, were more likely by half to have controlled their addiction and retained care of their children compared with those who were subject to standard care proceedings.

“It was clear from the findings that parents felt they were being treated as individuals and being supported more than judged and that they built really strong relationships with the judges overseeing the programme and the specialists to whom they have access as a result of going into FDAC,” she said.

The grant funding from the Commissioner is the single biggest financial contribution to the FDAC project in Bedfordshire. In another first, Bedfordshire’s Clinical Commissioning Group has provided the services of a highly experienced psychiatrist to enable the psychiatric screening of parents, via the East London Foundation Trust (ELFT).

FDAC has also made arrangements for consultations with child and adolescent psychologists in support of the mental health of children.

Public Health in Central Bedfordshire, Luton and Bedford has also supplied a funding grant for a Substance Misuse specialist to support the court. They are also providing FDAC Parent Mentors who have experienced similar issues to provide a supportive voice to parents outside those hours usually worked by FDAC and its specialist workers.

All three local authorities’ Directors of Children's Services in Luton, Bedford and Central Bedfordshire are supporting the programme and will refer suitable families to Family Drug and Alcohol Courts.

The charity, The Marks Trust, is also providing office space and room for parent assessments for the new courts and is committed to working with FDAC parents who ‘graduate’ the scheme, to help them gain employment as they rebuild their lives.

"I'm absolutely delighted that so many agencies have come together and seen the benefits that the Family Drug and Alcohol Court can bring to troubled families in Bedfordshire. Children belong in families. That is where they deserve to be. FDAC gives them the best chance to be with their parents by helping parents achieve and maintain abstinence in a problem solving, therapeutic, court process,” said Judge Peruško.

"Bedfordshire Family Drug and Alcohol Court is the first FDAC nationally to secure support from our Police and Crime Commissioner who also recognised the benefits of funding a specialist Domestic Abuse worker to work within the team. That commitment has drawn in other partners to work alongside children's services in Bedford, Luton and Central Bedfordshire. Public Health in all three authorities and Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group are partners. No other FDAC has such a broad base of support. We also have funding from The Marks Trust, a local charity assisting people who have come across difficult times”,  he said.

There will be two Family Drug and Alcohol courts in Bedfordshire; one in Bedford, overseen by Judge Peruško, with Judge Spinks running the court in Luton.

The Bedfordshire Family Drug and Alcohol Court was launched by Judge Perusko, the PCC, FDAC manager Beverley Sorensen and the three local authority Directors of Children's Services, at a presentation for professionals at Bedford Magistrates’ Court on Thursday (17 October),  which was also attended by a number of judges who support the FDAC process. A similar launch event is to take place in Luton later this month. The first hearings are due to start next month in November.

There are 11 FDACs across the country, with the project in Bedfordshire the first to be established in conjunction with other agencies outside of local authority children's social services.

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