Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner -  
01234 842064
PCC's victim service supports over 4,000 victims during 2020

 

Signpost, the service introduced by Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, to support victims and those affected by crime, helped over 4,000 across the county last year. 

Over the course of 2020, Signpost adapted to changes in crimes such as Domestic Abuse when it was more difficult for victims to seek help and leave their homes during lockdown and the specialist team of Victim Care Coordinators supported some 4,338 victims, working closely with partner organisations and charities to ensure the right care and route to help was given. 

“It’s such a tribute to the way that each and every Care Coordinator answering the phones or returning messages to those affected by crime really lives and breathes this work. If they can get someone to the right help for them it may be the difference between a crime permanently overshadowing their life and those of the people around them and them moving forward and having a full life free from anxiety,” said Commissioner Holloway.

“Signpost as a service - with its call centre and supporting website - has only been in operation since April 2018. It takes a while for people to know what services are out there but the fact that more than 4,000 found it last year, even during lockdown when people weren’t out and about spotting posters and leaflets, means it is truly getting established as the go to service for victim support in Bedfordshire.

“Signpost does what it says on the tin and points people to the right services for them and that includes both accommodation and counselling where that’s the right thing and even practical help such as mending damage to a property to make it safe and secure for the victim of crime. I’m incredibly proud of what the service has become and of every single person who works within it - as well as of every individual with the courage to pick up the phone or go online to ask for help,” said the PCC.

Simon Powell, Head of Victim Care at Signpost, said: “Signpost has continued to provide support to Bedfordshire’s victims of crime throughout the pandemic and will continue to do so through this lockdown period. It’s important that people know we're here to provide support during these difficult times.”

The service, which continues to run as normal throughout the national lockdown, operates Monday to Friday between 8am and 8pm and on Saturdays between 9am and 5pm and can be accessed by calling 0800 0282 887. If calling out of hours, there is an option to leave a voicemail, which will be responded to the next working day, alternatively, those in need of support can visit www.signpostforbedfordshire.com where they can submit a self-referral form. 

The team at Signpost has been working closely with partner organisations and charities to ensure support is still available for victims, whilst adhering to Covid-19 regulations and ensuring that the safety of all staff and service users is a priority. The new challenges have been met with a surge in demand for some services, but partnerships with organisations such as The Counselling Foundation, resulted in over 100 victims being supported with talking therapies in just five months last year. Counselling sessions were offered remotely to victims of Domestic Abuse, with the remaining sessions covering crimes such as recent and historic Sexual Abuse, Physical Assault, Harassment, Burglary and Fraud.

The PCC created a fund of £46,000 to provide emergency accommodation during lockdown to those fleeing Domestic Abuse and her team found hotels and housing for victims despite the difficulties of lockdown with so many facilities closing. She provided smart devices like phones and tablets for those service users working with the county’s Family Drug and Alcohol Courts to help them report such abuse and continue with their rehabilitation programme, remaining in touch with court support staff in confidence rather than having to share devices.

“We have been working alongside our partners to ensure we keep the support channels open to victims of crime. It’s vital that victims have access to support services at all times. Now more than ever victims need our help and I would like to thank our partners for the continuous hard work they put in to provide this,” added Simon Powell. 

If you have been affected by a crime, Signpost offers free and confidential support to victims in Bedfordshire, whether it has been reported to police or not and irrespective of where and when the crime occurred. Contact 0800 0282 887 or visit www.signpostforbedfordshire.com for further information.

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PCC commissions extra support services worth more than 90,000 pounds for victims of Sexual Assault

 

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has allocated over £93,000 to organisations to provide further support for victims of serious Sexual Assaults.

The Commissioner awarded £93,323 to five organisations running seven different projects ranging from online facilities to connect with a specialist advisor offering support and expert trauma counselling to accommodation advice and group coaching programmes.

“Sexual Assaults have the potential to change a life forever, building a lasting sense of vulnerability, a lack of self worth and the inability to trust others and form relationships if specialist support is not available to counter these. That’s why it’s absolutely critical to me to commission services to provide this effectively, even in the middle of a national pandemic.

“Women, girls, boys and men can all become victims in different circumstances and my office and I have sought to find services that can provide the expert help they need, whoever they are and wherever they live in this county irrespective of when the attack on them occurred. We have even engaged a service to help victims find accommodation if they have to leave their home or cannot find somewhere safe to live,” said PCC Holloway.

The following organisations have been awarded funds following the application process: 

Mary Seacole Housing Association LTD

You are not alone Project - £9,875.52
This is an online call-in facility for people who have been victims of Sexual Assault who are experiencing anxiety due to a real risk of losing their accommodation. Previous services offering similar assistance have closed, but this funding is for those facing multiple disadvantages and also provides on the spot counselling.

Trauma Recovery CIC

Trauma Recovery Talking Therapies Project - £18,000
This service delivers trauma counselling to adults following referrals from the Early Childhood Partnership ISVA (Independent Sexual Violence Adviser) service. Talking therapies will be delivered free of charge. The criteria will be for males or females who have been sexually assaulted and who have reported these crimes to the ISVA service and are residents of Bedfordshire. 

Embrace

Sexual Violence Step Down Service- £20,000
Supporting children and teenagers who have suffered sexual abuse and exploitation. This will expand the charity Embrace's capacity to deliver therapeutic services, in particular emotional and counselling support, which will be delivered by Bedfordshire-based ISVA and KIDVA (Children’s Independent Domestic Violence Adviser) trained specialists and carefully chosen associate therapists

Living your life

Counselling and group coaching programme for adults - £9,816
The funding enables this organisation to continue to offer counselling and pilot a group coaching programme focusing on identifying and developing personal strengths to help victims cope and move forward.

Counselling and peer support - £9,816
This is a pilot support group for adult survivors of childhood sexual exploitation.

Counselling and group coaching programme - £9,816
A group coaching programme for adults with drug or alcohol dependencies.


Matthew Bushnell, CEO for the Mary Seacole Housing Association, said: “We are proud to be offering this service in Partnership with the PCC and it’s our aspiration that through this intervention we will be able to support children and young people in need of step down services and continued support.”

Catherine Mulcaster, Business Director for Living Your Life (Bedfordshire), said: “We were delighted and grateful to have been awarded this additional funding by the PCC.  Demand for our services has sadly increased significantly over the past 12 months and we have grown from a team of four to fourteen to meet it. 

“This funding will make such a difference to people who need and will benefit from the trauma counselling support we provide.  We can also pilot some additional services that our clients have been asking for such as peer support groups and group coaching, which would not have been possible without this funding.” 

The projects will run from 1 January 2021 to 31 March 2021 and will be accessible through the Independent Sexual Violence Adviser Service (ISVA) which is provided by the Early Childhood Partnership. 

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Frontline services issue warning over vaccine registration scam which could cost life savings

Bedfordshire’s frontline services are working together to issue a warning to residents across the county as criminals seize the current opportunity of the pandemic to use the vaccination programme being rolled out across the country to create new scams which could cheat people out of their life savings and put people in danger.

Nationwide, police forces have been made aware of a growing number of scams which initially arrive as a text message claiming to be from the NHS offering the Covid-19 vaccine. The link that accompanies the fake text message takes the reader to a hoax NHS website which requests personal and financial details.

The PCC’s office has been working with the Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group, Bedfordshire Police, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, Central Bedfordshire Council, Luton Borough Council and Bedford Borough Council to produce a joint fraud alert which has been printed, with the aim for it to be sent to as many older and vulnerable residents in the county as possible.

To view and download the flyer : Frontline Flyer - Covid-19 Vaccine Scams   

“Please share this warning with everyone you know, especially the elderly and vulnerable who may be so desperate to get the vaccine that they will not think as carefully as normal about sharing their personal financial information.

“We all need to be aware that there are no circumstances whatever in which the NHS or your local GP will ask us for our bank details as a condition of receiving this life saving vaccine,” warned PCC Holloway.

Chief Superintendent John Murphy, force’s Covid-19 strategic lead, said: “Sadly criminals will always look to prey on people’s anxieties. It’s important to talk to vulnerable family members and friends about this scam. Explain that they shouldn’t reply to unsolicited messages and give out personal information. In Bedfordshire, the vaccine is only available through the NHS and is free of charge so no bank details are required when booking an appointment.

“Additionally, the vaccine can only be administered at a GP surgery, certified pharmacies or the government mass vaccination centre. Therefore, please do not trust any cold callers offering you the vaccine on your doorstep.

“If you believe that you or anyone close to you have been targeted by this scam, please report it to Action Fraud or to the police immediately by using our online reporting tool.”

Dr Sarah Whiteman, Medical Director for Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), said: “It is worrying and upsetting to hear of patients being targeted by fraudulent calls and text messages offering the Covid-19 vaccination. Our GPs are working incredibly hard to contact their patients and invite them to attend a vaccination appointment. They will never ask for banking details or for you to prove your identity with personal documents – if you are contacted by someone who is asking for these, hang up immediately.

“Upon contact, the GP will invite you to a vaccination centre near to you, the NHS will never turn up at your home unannounced. I am concerned that our vulnerable residents may be targeted in this way and if you are worried that someone has been a victim of this fraud, please report this to Action Fraud or 0300 123 2040, or report it to the police online or by calling 101.”

Over the coming weeks, the flyers will be sent to all partners to ensure as many older and vulnerable residents receive the warning and can keep the information close by to refer to if needed or worried. The Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service has offered their services to help distribute the information and posters will also be placed in supermarkets, pharmacies and doctors’ surgeries. The flyer will also be sent out via email and will be available on the Commissioner’s website (
www.bedfordshire.pcc.police.uk) for anyone who wishes to send or print it off for family and friends who might benefit from the information.

The advice for anyone who is concerned that they might have received such a scam, is not to click on the link. The NHS will never ask for your personal information or for your financial details for the vaccination. Do not enter any card or bank details.

The vaccine is only available through the NHS and your GP will contact you when it is your turn.

Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to 7726 (which spells “SPAM” on the keypad). This brief, cost-free, code enables your service provider to investigate the origin of the text and take action, if it is found to be fraudulent. You can report fraud through the police’s online reporting centre (
https://www.bedfordshire.police.uk/report/Report) or by calling 101.

If you have been a victim of a scam or fraud, the PCC’s victim support service for those affected by crime, Signpost, offers free and confidential support in Bedfordshire, whether it has been reported to police or not and irrespective of where and when the crime occurred. Contact 0800 0282 887 or visit 
www.signpostforbedfordshire.com for further information.

 
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Ask for ANI - Force and PCC back new domestic abuse codeword scheme to help victims seek support

Bedfordshire Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, are supporting a new domestic abuse codeword scheme which launches today (Thursday) to help victims access emergency support in the community via local pharmacies.
 

The “Ask for ANI” (pronounced Annie) scheme has been devised by the Home Office in collaboration with pharmacy associations, the police, and partners working in the domestic abuse sector.

Anyone experiencing abuse will be able to use the codeword “ANI” at participating pharmacies, which stands for “Action Needed Immediately”, to indicate they require emergency police response, or help to find support, when speaking to pharmacy staff.

Participating pharmacies will display information to let customers know that they can approach their staff to seek help, and when a victim uses the codeword, or asks directly for help, they will be shown to a consultation room and helped to seek police assistance, or contact appropriate support services, and work has already been undertaken by the Bedfordshire Domestic Abuse Partnership, to get the county’s pharmacies on board with the scheme in readiness for its launch.

Detective Chief Inspector Craig Laws, head of Bedfordshire Police’s Emerald team, responsible for the investigation of domestic abuse, said: “This new scheme provides a simple and discreet way for those experiencing abuse to signal that they need help from the police or from domestic abuse support services.

“Anyone can be affected by domestic abuse, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, ability, socio-economic status, sexuality or background, and pharmacies are such an appropriate setting for hosting the scheme, because everyone can visit them.

“We are working with our partners to ensure that our officers and call handling teams are fully briefed on what “Ask for ANI” will mean to those at risk of harm, and we are delighted that victims have a further way of accessing support, especially now we are in another full lockdown period, which we know presents potential for greater risk to victims.”

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Victims of Domestic Abuse can be terrified of speaking out at all, let alone being overheard. Just being able to go into a participating pharmacy, indicated by a poster and say ‘I’d like to ask for Ani’ and know the staff understand that this is a cry for help which cannot be ignored is essential. I trust that all the participating businesses will ensure that every single member of staff is trained and regularly reminded of this lifeline and that it is put to the test to make sure that they do.”

Jenny Bull, Domestic Abuse Project Manager at Victim Support, said: “It can seem almost impossible for those affected by domestic abuse and unhealthy control to find a safe way to reach out for help.

“Schemes such as this are more important now than they have ever been, as they provide someone with a lifeline, a safe space away from the public eye and a chance to safely get access to advice, guidance, support, and police action.

“In some instances, this could save their lives and the lives of their children or other family members.”

Bedfordshire Police would also like to reassure those experiencing abuse that support is still available, despite the pandemic, and together with partner agencies, will continue to investigate and share information on how to make a report and to find help.

To report domestic abuse, call police on 101, or visit a participating pharmacy and ask for “ANI”. Alternatively, you can call independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. If someone is in immediate danger, call 999.To find out more information and advice about domestic abuse please visit Bedfordshire Police’s information pages.

Victims of domestic abuse can also contact Signpost for free and confidential support, whether the abuse has been reported or not.

Signpost’s experienced staff and volunteers know what emotions and challenges victims may be going through. They are specially trained to listen and give help and advice. Often just talking to someone, especially one who is not family or  a friend, can help victims, or those affected, make sense of what has happened and find a way to help cope and recover.

They can provide a safe, neutral place for victims to voice their fears, worries and emotions. Their emotional support is confidential and non-judgemental. They also work with a range of specialist organisations and community support groups and can make referrals to help victims on their journey. For further information or to get in contact visit www.signpostforbedfordshire.com

 
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PCC funded YouTube channel supporting young people during lockdown watched hundreds more times and offering something to do every day

A YouTube channel, set up last year during the first national lockdown (May 2020) to help support Bedfordshire’s young people through the Covid-19 pandemic with entertainment activities each day, has continued to be watched over 500 times and is now being re-launched to make more aware of what’s on offer. 

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, commissioned youth sports and fitness and creative organisations to produce content, aimed at 10 to 25-year-olds, as part of The James Campbell Collective YouTube activity channel, which was coordinated and introduced each day by professional personal fitness trainer and body builder James during the first lockdown and summer holidays. The JCC staged an activity programme each weekday which included Luton Town Football Club training sessions, cooking and baking on a budget, art, chess tutorials and dance workshops.

“The word of this scheme spread and it's continued to add a further 500 views long after the first lockdown and school holiday ended. The absolute beauty of investing in those outstanding organisations who provided activities through The James Campbell Collective - and frankly the wisdom of doing so given the possibility of returning to lockdown as we are currently, throughout the winter months - is that all these activities and sessions can be accessed once more on YouTube now without further investment.

“These activities are aimed specifically at those who are 10 to 25 and are deliberately led by a young person himself in James who is a fantastic youth mentor and proved a highly accomplished, professional and totally reliable provider of daily content despite being only 20 at the time and those others this age group may look up to such as the players of Luton Town FC and highly respected local youth leader Montell Neufville, together with fantastic boxing coaches, artists and chefs.

“Once again I hope that the young people of Bedfordshire who fancy taking up a new hobby or improving their fitness, without access to gyms or sports clubs, can find something they genuinely enjoy doing during this new lockdown to employ some of the extra time they have on their hands at home or even something to inspire them for life.

“This is also a set of workshops and fitness sessions that are absolutely free of charge to access as many times as children and young people fancy, which I trust is a boon for parents,” said Commissioner Holloway.

The James Campbell Collective (JCC), which finished producing videos in September, had over 350 activity video sessions uploaded and live streamed to the channel for young people, which were viewed 4,965 times in four months and have since been watched a further 539 times.

James Campbell said: “When lockdown first started I was massively affected by the closure of gyms. Being someone who eats, breathes and sleeps gym, I was preparing for a very difficult time both mentally and physically. When I was presented with the idea of hosting The JCC I saw this as a perfect opportunity to help others who were about to be in the same situation as me, as well as a way to keep myself motivated and pushing through this tough time.

“The outcome of The JCC was far beyond what I expected: as we neared the end of lockdown I felt well trained and was extremely pleased with the progress The JCC had made as a whole. Of course, this would not have been possible without the other creators on the platform who put a lot of effort into their work and diversified what we had to offer resulting in an enjoyable experience for the viewers. If you are yet to join The JCC I would massively recommend it, especially with recent news of another lockdown. I know how I’ll be getting through this one!”

“I’d so appreciate it if every mum, dad, brother and sister and those who teach or lead youth activities could spread the word of The James Campbell Collective on YouTube so that as many young people as possible throughout Bedfordshire have something positive to look forward to and take part in each and every day until they can get back to their schools and colleges and a more normal way of living.

“It’s been an absolute privilege to have had the ability to set it up at such a time of need among young people and, especially, since the last lockdown unfortunately proved such an opportunity for criminals to cruise chat rooms and social networks to try to lure them into far less positive activities as the National Crime Agency and our own Regional Organised Crime Unit have since confirmed,” said PCC Holloway.

The James Campbell Collective is aimed at 10 to 25-year-olds and all 357 videos can be accessed on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBBGBdJgnvMHd25wW7aqVUQ/featured  

 
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PCC wins extra funding to support the Midland Road Safer Street Project improving CCTV service across Bedford

 

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has won a further £30,000 supporting the Safer Streets Project after a successful bidding process which will upgrade the CCTV system for residents across Bedford Borough.

The OPCC, with the support of the Bedford Community Safety Partnership, was successful in its bid for additional funding from the Home Office. The fund of £30,000 will be used to support the new CCTV platform, which will deliver a more resilient local network of CCTV capability within the Safer Street area, including the ability to follow intruders.

This additional funding was crucial to the work which has already commenced to enable the project to deliver the Smart technology required.

In July this year, as a result of two successful bids submitted to the Home Office’s Safer Streets Campaign by the PCC's office and its partners, the areas of High Town in Luton and Midland Road in Bedford were awarded £448,150 and £434,000 respectively to improve safety including enhancing CCTV coverage using brand new technology to follow intruders, new gating around car parks and back alleys to prevent criminals from gaining access to homes or stealing cars, advanced home security equipment including doorbells showing the caller and bespoke crime prevention advice for both residents and businesses plus a community centre for the Midland Road area.

“This extra money will upgrade Bedford Borough’s CCTV system and allow it to work with the footage from the state of the art new equipment in the Midland Road area but also any installed by the council elsewhere across the borough could then feed into its system. If intruders get into private property or are behaving suspiciously in alleys and car parks they will not only show up clearly but will be followed by the new CCTV cameras as they move around the area of Midland Road.

“This should prove a very significant deterrent to criminal activity indeed and will be of excellent evidential value to Bedfordshire Police,” said Commissioner Holloway.

The new fund comes after the launch earlier this month of the new Safer Streets Centre in Prebend Street, Bedford which has been funded by the PCC. The community centre will see charities and other organisations providing specialist support and services to residents and will act as a visiting base for the Bedford Police Community Hub team of officers and PCSOs, providing higher visibility for police in the area and ease of contact for residents to pass on their crime and safeguarding concerns.

The PCC-funded victim support service, Signpost will also be provided with space in the community centre and will regularly deploy its specialist Victim Care Coordinators to work there.

If you have been affected by a crime, Signpost offers free and confidential support to victims in Bedfordshire, whether it has been reported to police or not and irrespective of where and when the crime occurred. Contact 0800 0282 887 or visit www.signpostforbedfordshire.com for further information.

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PCC thanks residents for taking part in her annual survey

 

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has thanked residents who responded to her fourth annual survey, which asked the people of Bedfordshire to have their say on policing and crime in their area.

The responses from the survey, which was launched in October, showed that 65% of people supported the Commissioner’s pledge to return to more visible policing. Burglary and anti-social behaviour were issues residents felt most concerned by within their communities, with drug dealing and county lines also frequently mentioned.

Improving on last year’s survey, 69% of respondents stated they feel safe in the area they live in - a 12% increase. In the last year, Commissioner Holloway for the third year running, has secured a Policing Special Grant of £2.9m to boost the front line and tackle gun, gang and knife crime. The PCC, working with her office and local authorities, also won both bids to the Home Office’s Safer Streets Fund totalling £882,150 to improve safety across Midland Road in Bedford and Luton’s High Town. The project, which is closely monitored by the OPCC, if successful, will pave the way for future work across the county mirroring a similar concept.

"I really do appreciate and thank all of you who have taken the time to complete the annual survey. The results form part of my frank discussions with the Force over what the communities of Bedfordshire experience from their police service” said the Commissioner.


On the subject of police stations and hubs, 60% of people surveyed were unaware of their location and how many there were in Bedfordshire. In response to this, the OPCC launched a factsheet and bespoke survey to the town and parish councils, to further build on relationships and share vital information, in place of the PCC’s annual council event which was unable to go ahead this year due to the pandemic.

In the last three years, 30% of residents surveyed have been a victim of crime, with additional comments revealing the impact that crime can have on those who are close to the victim. Looking ahead, the OPCC will be working with the PCC’s service for victims, Signpost, to focus on a campaign supporting family and friends of victims of crime and how it can have an impact on their wellbeing.


A comprehensive project has already started called Victim Needs Assessment which will also provide an updated focus on how we can support our victims through the commissioning process and Signpost.

Commissioner Holloway added “Being able to engage with all communities is vital for my role as I need to understand the views of the people of Bedfordshire and what issues particularly affect them. The Victim Needs Assessment will provide key indicators as to the services that are required across the county.”


If you have been affected by a crime, Signpost offers free and confidential support to victims in Bedfordshire, whether it has been reported to police or not and irrespective of where and when the crime occurred. Contact 0800 0282 887 or visit www.signpostforbedfordshire.com for further information.

100 Conversation : please email Pccevents@bedfordshire.pnn.police.uk

Results of the PCC 2020 Survey 

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PCC commends Bedfordshire Police for outstanding resilience and dedication after distributing 6 million pounds to support the county through this year's pandemic

 

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has commended the outstanding work of Bedfordshire Police and partners in the face of an unprecedented year in her Christmas message to the force as she marked £6m of funding those working with her office to support communities and victims of crime.

The £6m has included funding from the Special Grant from the Home Office, funding from the Ministry of Justice, Bedfordshire’s Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) and the Home Office’s Safer Streets Campaign. 

In response to the pandemic, Bedfordshire Police has responded quickly to changing government legislation and guidance, while minimising enforcement wherever possible, and has supported communities across the county as policing style had to adapt to these national changes, ensuring the people of Bedfordshire have been looked after and kept safe.

“Across the force, all teams of officers and staff together with the volunteer police service the Special Constabulary and all other volunteers have worked closely together to maintain a high level of service, frequently working in challenging and difficult conditions and this is particularly true of our officers who have had an unprecedented year of success in cracking down on serious organised crime, pandemic or no pandemic.

“The most recent operational highlight happened just last Thursday (17 December) when around 180 officers and staff were involved in raids on nine addresses, resulting in eight arrests and the seizure of almost £100,000 in cash after a 2am briefing. This is what the public don’t see but what effective ‘visible’ policing actually looks like,” said Commissioner Holloway.

The specialist guns, gang and knife crime unit, known as Boson, made notable arrests and seizures throughout the lockdown period. Highlights include the following: -

* In a six-month period from February to July this year, Boson carried out 43 warrants, made 108 arrests and seized almost four kilograms of Class A and Class B drugs, as well as around £67,800 in cash.

* At the end of April, the team secured a five-year prison sentence for a, 21-year-old man from Luton after he pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply Class A drugs and possession of a firearm. The man was arrested during one of the team’s many warrants.

* Earlier in the year, Boson secured a 27-and-a-half-year sentence for a 22-year-old man after he pleaded guilty to five charges included attempted murder.

* In October Five people were arrested and a firearm was recovered in Luton after proactive police patrols in the Lewsey Park area.

“My office has worked hard to support partners through the pandemic and where we’ve won funds we have provided additional support to those charities and organisations that are essential to help and support communities, especially to help those escaping Domestic Abuse. This year I have won or issued just over £6m pounds to support services across the county and as I continue into 2021 and conclude my role at the May election I will continue to fight for every penny Bedfordshire needs,” said the PCC.

Charities and partners of the Bedfordshire Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner had to adapt working practices during this year: when face-to-face meetings and support was impossible due to lockdown restrictions they found ways of calling or otherwise helping their clients, including via smart devices issued to victims of Domestic Abuse that were supplied by the PCC’s fund.

“This has been a very tough year both emotionally and financially for every single person within the community, however we've also seen many extraordinary examples of communities rallying around each other; from truly wonderful examples such as Sir Tom Moore in his remarkable achievement raising millions for the NHS to organisations and individuals across the county arranging food deliveries and parcels for thousands of their vulnerable neighbours - everyone deserves a huge thank you for stepping up to the plate and I hope they all have the Christmas they have definitely earned,” said PCC Holloway.

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PCC funds Midland Road Safer Streets centre in Bedford to help vulnerable residents, provide a police base and build a safer neighbourhood
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has funded a community centre in Bedford which will offer a dedicated space for police and partners to support local victims of crime and help to reduce the risk of residents becoming victims as part of the Safer Streets programme for which her office has won funding from the Home Office.

The newly improved community centre, on Prebend Street in Bedford, which has been run by the charity SMART CJS since 2016, was officially reopened today (Thursday 17 December) following further investment from the Commissioner of £16,040. The funding supported additional staff costs and the expansion of the centre which will allow organisations to tackle a wider range of community issues and encourage more partnership working, including as a Community Policing base and linking with the Bedford Borough Council’s Community Safety team and Signpost, Commissioner Holloway’s support service for victims of crime. 

“I’m absolutely delighted that right at the very heart of the. Midland Road Safer Streets project there will be an improved community centre, which is also Covid secure, to provide a meeting point for residents and a base for partners to deliver projects with them to make the whole neighbourhood safer and create a real sense of community as well.

“This would not have been possible without funding from the Home Office which was one of two Safer Streets bids totalling £882,000 won by my office this year and without the help of Bedford Borough Council which has worked with the OPCC team on this bid for the Midland Road area,” said PCC Holloway.

Anita McCallum, CEO for SMART CJS, said, “We are thrilled that the SMART Prebend Centre will now be used in a whole new way - as a community centre – as a base for the Safer Streets Project and other community partner organisations. Rather than lying empty, with this temporary change of use kindly granted by Bedford Borough Council, it will be opened for the benefit of the residents and to make the area safer for all. 

“We will, of course, be working in close collaboration with the Safer Streets Team who will alert us to any rough sleepers who may need our help and support with shelter, food, healthcare and other advice.” 

The Community Safety team from Bedford Borough Council will use the centre to continue the work being carried out under the Safer Streets Fund, which involves working with the community to improve residents’ home security, street lighting and improved CCTV cameras. 

The Community Policing team will also be present at the centre to support the community and offer crime prevention advice, as well as a Victim Care Coordinator from Signpost.

Sergeant Maddie Doggrell, from the Bedford Community Policing team, said: “We are working closely with our partners on the Safer Streets Project and we are really grateful we have a community centre where we can come together to make sure our victims are getting the support they need.
 
“Protecting our community is at the heart of everything we do and we want our local residents to know we will be there to support them, share crime prevention advice and tackle the issues that they are facing.”

Simon Powell, Head of Victim Care for the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “The Safer Streets initiative is a wonderful platform for Signpost to be able to interact with Bedfordshire’s victims of crime by utilising the Safer Streets centre on Prebend Street. Working alongside Safer Streets will be a Victim Care Coordinator every Wednesday to provide face to face advice and support. 

Antonina Belcheva Safer Streets Project Manager and Commissioning Lead for the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, said : “ We are pleased to be able to provide further facilities not only to community members but to our partners who will be able to deliver a variety of support sessions from the centre. The support we have seen so far from Bedfordshire Police, Fire Service, Community Safety Team and partners has been incredible, we can certainly say that our multi agency approach proves to be working for a safer community.”

For any organisations or charities wishing to use the centre as a base for community work, please contact the team via email at 
saferstreets@bedford.gov.uk.

The Signpost support service for those affected by crime, not just the victims themselves, can be contacted free of charge on 0800 0282 887 where specialist Victim Care Coordinators will help find the support that is needed by each individual.
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PCC provides vital funding for charity supporting children harmed by crime as demand surges
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has provided an additional £56k to the charity, Embrace Child Victims of Crime (Embrace CVOC), which provides specialist counselling, therapy and practical support to children whose lives have been devastated by crime and has kicked off its Christmas gift appeal.

This year, the charity has seen an increase of 108% in the number of families it is supporting in Bedfordshire as a result of rise in Domestic Abuse. This year, 400 children and families have benefited from practical and emotional support, as well as specialist therapy and counselling. Help is provided by a children’s independent domestic violence advisor (KIDVA), who works closely with the charity’s therapeutic support team and partners, to help children to build their self-confidence and self-esteem and give them coping strategies to rebuild their lives.

“One of the many tragedies of the pandemic has been the increase in Domestic Abuse and the impact on children as a result of families being forced together under pressure. Embrace is reaching out to those children, showing them this isn’t their fault and offering them ways to view their own futures differently. It’s nothing short of a lifeline to these young people.

“I’ve always been delighted that this organisation delivers exactly what it promises to those children who need it most and is extremely flexible. For example, it has already worked with my office to provide goods we paid for to help children fleeing Domestic Abuse and living in temporary accommodation to access the activities we laid on throughout lockdown and the school holidays. Here it is stepping in again when and where needed,” said PCC Holloway.

Chief Executive of Embrace CVOC Anne Campbell said: “The pandemic has really taken its toll on some families and we have seen a huge rise in referrals from families affected by Domestic Abuse. We provide counselling, and specialist talking therapies to help these children and their families rebuild their lives.

“We have also supported families who have moved into refuges or hotels to escape the abuse with hardship support packages including food vouchers, toys, clothes or other essentials to help them rebuild their lives.”

The Commissioner is also calling on the public to support the charity’s Christmas appeal to help make dreams come true for children harmed by crime. The charity organises the annual Dear Santa appeal to give the public a chance to buy a gift for children who may have lost a parent or sibling because they have been unlawfully killed. They might have experienced sexual, physical or emotional abuse or have been living in a home torn apart by Domestic Abuse.

Safeguarding agencies such as the police, schools and Domestic Abuse support staff have referred children to Embrace CVOC to get the support they need. Children are also asked to choose one gift they really want, for some it will be the only gift they get this year. These gifts are available to buy through Embrace CVOC’s website – https://embracecvoc.org.uk/dear-santa/

“The Dear Santa appeal gives children the chance to have presents that would otherwise never appear and I would like to help get this year’s appeal to this fantastic cause underway with a £500 donation. I can assure anybody considering a donation that it will be put to the use it is meant to as Embrace’s appeal does just what 'it says on the tin',” said Commissioner Holloway

“Our Dear Santa campaign gives these children a reason to smile on Christmas Day. Families tell us how much it means for them to know, after the trauma they have experienced, there is still good and kindness in the world and there are people willing to give to strangers to help make their children smile through the toughest of times. Please give generously if you can because you really will be making a huge difference to children who have suffered so much,” added Anne Campbell.


Embrace’s Dear Santa Christmas appeal

How you can help?

You can buy a gift for a child harmed by crime directly from our Dear Santa Wish List. To buy a gift for a child who has been harmed by crime visit https://embracecvoc.org.uk/dear-santa/

Here you’ll find a list of Dear Santa gifts together with details of the recipients, for example their age, the region they come from and the crime they have been affected by. Every gift has been chosen by a child who has suffered trauma. You can also donate money by visiting http://virginmoneygiving.com/fund/dearsanta2020

What is Embrace CVOC?
Embrace CVOC is the only charity in the UK which works solely with children who have been harmed by serious crime. Since its launch in 1993, it has helped thousands of children across the UK who have suffered violent, physical or sexual abuse, neglect or who have lost a close family member to homicide. It delivers a range of support including access to therapy, practical and emotional support and uplifting experiences for children and their families. To find out more about Embrace CVOC visit www.embracecvoc.org.uk.
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PCC funded programme supporting families through addiction crises achieves high success rate in its first year despite Covid-19

The Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) programme which was the first to be funded by a Police and Crime Commissioner, when Kathryn Holloway gave it her backing in Bedfordshire, has so far supported 19 parents, with 31 children between them, who were in care proceedings which may have led to their removal from home, through intense rehabilitation plans and regular reviews by its presiding judge, giving families a greater chance of staying together.

Family Drug and Alcohol Courts require a parent with addiction to agree to 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. The programme, which was first launched last year in Bedfordshire (November 2019), with such courts in both Luton and Bedford, has seen a high success rate, with 68.5% parents achieving and sustaining abstinence from illegal substances or alcohol.

“This remarkable figure, given what may have been decades of substance or alcohol abuse beforehand, is a success for every single person concerned; the parents who have taken this opportunity to start turning their lives and those of their families around, every member of the incredible team of staff involved in supporting them and the outstanding Judge Patrick Peruško who is so committed to help those on the FDAC programme with whom he spends so much time, so regularly, as the judge heading up this innovative response to care proceedings where parents have particular addictions and dependencies which they must tackle in order for their children to continue to live with them.

“I feel honoured to have been given the opportunity to be the first PCC to commit funding to the FDAC project and was always confident of its success, with such a motivated team overseeing the process. I also want to thank the child safeguarding leads of our three local authorities across the county for their involvement and backing for this scheme, for which their departments provide referrals of subjects most likely to benefit. We couldn’t do it without them,” said PCC Holloway.

Central Bedfordshire Director of Children’s Services, and Chair of Pan Beds FDAC board, Sue Harrison said: “The commitment of funding from all three Local Authorities to ensure the provision of FDAC across Bedfordshire reflects the fact that FDAC complements the strength based approach taken by all three local authorities when working with families who need support. The three Directors of Children’s Services remain committed to championing the innovative FDAC approach. This is a great example of Pan Bedfordshire partnership working and the Directors continue to welcome the PCC’s commitment to this partnership.”

Judge Peruško, who oversees the Family Drug and Alcohol court in Bedford, said: “This has been an extraordinary year in the field of child protection.  The Covid-19 pandemic has affected each and every one of us in ways we never envisaged.  For parents and children living in crisis associated with drug and alcohol dependency it has been particularly challenging.  Support services for those families have been severely impacted by the pandemic and associated government restrictions. 

“In those circumstances Pan Beds FDAC has had an impressive first year.  Not only have we worked with very many families we have managed to continue conducting our court hearings with parents fortnightly and helped families cope with and adapt to different ways of accessing professional support.  The FDAC team have been extremely resilient and I am very proud that we have maintained a high level of support to families that need our help and in particular supported many parents to care for their children safely.”

As part of the programme, Commissioner Holloway also agreed to pay for a Domestic Abuse specialist to support parents attending the Family Drug and Alcohol Court. In the first year, 95% of parents received targeted healthy relationship guidance to address concerns regarding Domestic Abuse. The PCC also provided additional funding during the pandemic to pay for secure smart devices such as computer tablets to help those in the programme to continue to access this specialist advice remotely.

The Bedfordshire Judges and FDAC team have been active within the national FDAC community supporting the development of similar new courts. The programme has had a wider impact on Bedfordshire with alcohol and drug screening helping to prevent drink driving offences, the Probation Service reporting an improvement in an offender’s engagement under FDAC and intervention from the programme has also helped to reduce involvement from the emergency services in relation to its service users.

“The results of involvement within these unique courts are crystal clear. They're helping to support parents to deal with their addictions with the effect of keeping families together and are even helping to reduce the demand on emergency serves. I couldn’t be more delighted with the outcome so far and trust that my successor as PCC from next May and all our partners working to back this incredible project will ensure that the FDACs are enabled to continue their vital work,” said Commissioner Holloway.

 
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PCC thanks volunteers for their dedication and hard work ahead of International Volunteer Day
This Saturday (5th December), we are celebrating International Volunteer Day. As an organisation, we depend so much on the generosity of your time, dedication and hard work.

It has been an incredibly challenging year, adapting the way we live and work whilst trying to run essential services to protect our communities and support victims of crime and those who are vulnerable.

My office and I would like to thank each and every member of our volunteering family for your continued efforts. Every hour you give up to volunteer, makes our county a better and safer place for all and we are lucky and proud to have you all.

Across Bedfordshire Police and the OPCC, we rely on so many incredibly knowledgeable and talented individuals working as volunteers in a variety of roles such as Special Constables, victim care providers in Signpost, Independent Custody Visitors, Stop and Search Panel members, Dog Welfare volunteers, Independent Advisory Group members, police staff volunteers and Watch Scheme volunteers.

We know how tough it has been this year and I would like to pay a special thanks to you all for your patience and support.

The OPCC will continue to do everything it can to keep essential services running and has been adapting the way some areas run to allow volunteers to keep carrying out their hugely important work. Thank you for assisting us with this process and we welcome the day when all services and volunteering can resume to its usual way of operating. Until then, please stay safe and thank you again for everything you do.

With many thanks,

Kathryn Holloway
Police and Crime Commissioner for Bedfordshire

 
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