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PCC breaks the ground for new custody suite at headquarters


Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has officially broken the ground for works to begin on a new multi-million pound custody suite for Bedfordshire Police at its Kempston headquarters.

The works are to include a new 22-cell custody block, additional office accommodation and extra parking and the new custody block is set to be built within two years. The project marks the first major new building the force has undertaken since 2005.

“Since the old Greyfriars station in Bedford closed down because its custody suite was not fit for purpose, its replacement has been being planned. This has been a priority for me and I’m absolutely delighted to get this build underway on my watch.

“Our current custody suite is a temporary building, which can be sold on when it’s no longer needed, but I want us to have a purpose built modern detention suite. Custody in Luton has been totally refurbished since I became PCC in 2016 and we will now be creating similarly high standard facilities for the north of the county.

“This is essential as our detention staff and officers deserve to have the best working environment we can provide and we need to remember that those in police custody have not yet gone before a court and are innocent until proven guilty.


“Anyone wanting to know what Luton custody is like now only has to watch C4’s ’24 Hours in Police Custody’. Similar working and detention conditions are just what’s needed at Kempston moving forward,” said Commissioner Holloway.

Bedford Borough Council granted planning permission for the new site on Friday (29 May). The £18 million project coincides with planning permission set to run out on the existing temporary custody facility at Kempston.

The state-of-the-art custody facility will be accompanied by some 1,600 sqm of new office space. This will allow the force to have all its investigation teams operating under one roof, which should translate into benefits around operational work and information sharing.

Chief Constable Garry Forsyth said: “This is a major and much-needed investment in our force estate which will enormously improve our custody facilities in Bedfordshire.

“The additional office space will also allow us to bring a number of teams under one roof, fostering closer working between different departments and offering a better working environment.

“I have no doubt that this new facility will have a positive impact on the force for years to come.”

Willmott Dixon, the construction company undertaking the project, will be working to minimise the impact of the construction site for operational staff going back and forth from HQ.

Chris Tredget, Managing Director of Willmott Dixon, said: “We are delighted to be working with Bedfordshire Police to deliver their brand new 22-cell custody suite and offices. Having built similar facilities in the region, we are collaborating closely with them to ensure that the facility will meet all of their requirements and needs, providing a state-of-the-art building and better environment for all.”


“The other massive benefit of this new project is that it settles the future of Kempston HQ once and for all. It means Bedfordshire Police is wedded to the site as its headquarters which means that custody is just the start and new windows, car parking and a better and more sustainable workplace can be planned for the main building too which is just what our incredibly hard working officers and staff deserve,” said PCC Holloway.


The PCC commissioned environmental advisors The Carbon Trust to advise on an eco retrofit of the main HQ offices as opposed to a brand new building and their study concluded that it would cost only half of the amount to proceed with such adjustments rather than going for a new build police headquarters.


“With the new accommodation above custody this also leaves the invitation open for our good friends at Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service to consider whether they might wish to join us eventually on a combined blue light site,” said the PCC.

Support service for those in mental health crisis backed by the PCC celebrates outstanding success in its first year

Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway, Bedfordshire Police and local mental health services are celebrating the outstanding first year success of the county's Mental Health Hub (MHH), which brought together mental health professionals and police to help those in mental health crisis across the county.

The innovative service is jointly funded by the Commissioner, the police and East London Foundation Trust (ELFT).

Specially designed, with input from mental health professionals and service users, the MHH has three distinct parts:

- Placing a mental health nurse within Bedfordshire Police’s Force Contact Centre (FCC - the control room) to deal directly with callers in crisis, providing support and tactical advice to police officers, as well as coaching and guidance for all call handlers in the management of mental health related calls

- Installing  a mental health nurse in the PCC’s Signpost victim support service to deal directly with callers with mental health issues and offer support and guidance to colleagues dealing with those affected by crime who are in crisis

- Creating the Serenity Integrated Mentoring (SIM) programme, providing named officers and mental health workers for each of the most high intensity users of all the emergency services in the county; often as a result of high risk mental health related issues that may result in a service user being sectioned.

These work in partnership with a dedicated police investigator and the existing Mental Health Street Triage Team.

In its first year, with dedicated nurse support, the FCC handled almost 1,500 calls that involved an element of mental health crisis and with the further support of the PCC’s Signpost service, were able to prevent 180 detentions under section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983.

In total, 443 police deployments were also avoided with the intervention of the dedicated FCC mental health nurse and the nurse in the Signpost victim support call centre (on freephone 0800 0282 887).

FCC mental health nurses provided nearly 100 training sessions to call handlers, Signpost staff and police colleagues, to promote increased understanding of mental health.

The SIM programme has supported five high intensity service users to not only improve their mental health but reduce their contact with, and high use of, emergency services - saving an estimated £20,000 per user per month across each of the county’s blue light services.

In addition, the deployment of the dedicated Police Investigator, has meant recording of offences that involve a degree of mental health issue, has increased by 45 per cent and seen 47 positive outcomes so far. Re-offending during this time has dropped to just two cases.

The Mental Health Street Triage Team successfully avoided the need for A&E attendance or detention in hospital under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act on an incredible 1,557 occasions.

Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, said: “Most people think a police officer’s time is spent exclusively dealing with crime, however, around 80 per cent is now spent dealing with other incidents, very often involving mental health situations which can be incredibly complex and may involve people experiencing such despair they wish to end their lives, or cause harm to others.

“One in four people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England and we should never underestimate the impact that has upon demand for the emergency services, who are at the very forefront of protecting and supporting the vulnerable.

“My commitment, one year ago, was to provide an initiative to bring together professional, dedicated individuals who would never turn their backs on someone in crisis, while providing support for colleagues and finding alternate ways, where possible, to divert people from the criminal justice system, which has resulted in a considerable cost saving to the county. The evidence proves conclusively that the first year of the service has been a resounding success,” said Commissioner Holloway.

Chief Inspector Mo Aziz, Bedfordshire Police's lead for mental health, said: “We now have a tried and tested model of a truly integrated response, with proven results in early detection, prevention of mental health crisis, reduction in use of police time when dealing with mental health related incidents and improving the overall experience for service users.

“The increase in recording of crime data involving mental health events will also allow us to build a more accurate picture of the issue in our county as we take this fantastic initiative forward into year two.”

An Institute for Government Performance Tracker 2019 survey found the number of mental health incidents involving police officers rose from 385,206 to 494,159 between 2014-18 and there was also a 13 per cent increase in the number of individuals taken to a place of safety by officers under the Mental Health Act.

Police and Crime Commissioner wins more than 882,000 to make Bedfordshire streets safer

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has announced that her office has been successful with two further bids to the Home Office as part of its Safer Streets Campaign, amounting to almost £900k and residents in both Bedford and Luton will benefit.


The two bids were based on dramatic improvements to community safety around Midland Road in Bedford and High Town in Luton. Residents and businesses will see an investment of £434,000 for the Midland Road area and £448,150 in High Town. The money awarded, totalling £882,150, will be spent in areas such as enhancing CCTV coverage using brand new technology, 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. 

“It’s almost unheard of for a PCC and her team to win more than one bid into such community funds and this reflects the incredible amount of work put into both bids by my Chief of Staff, Clare Kelly, and Antonina Belcheva who works on grants’ bids for me. They very closely liaised with the local authority heads of Community Safety who really got behind the bids with innovative ideas, especially around the sort of technology that can help residents to be safer and provide effective target-hardening of vulnerable areas and vehicles.

“I’m absolutely delighted that within a month of winning £48,000 from the Ministry of Defence in bids to tackle Domestic Abuse, my office has been successful once again with landing the evidence of genuine need here in Bedfordshire,” said PCC Holloway. 

As part of the applications process, research was conducted by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s (OPCC) Commissioning Officer, Antonina Belcheva, who worked in partnership with Bedfordshire Police’s Community Policing Inspector, Darren Turney, and Architectural Liaison Officer, Pete Knowles together with John McKinney and Sarah Stevens from the Bedford Community Safety Partnership and Tara Lynch, Luton Borough Council’s Anti Social Behaviour Case Management Officer.

The two areas to benefit were identified through the research of this group and chosen because of their particularly high levels of local crime and deprivation. High Town in Luton is an area found to be within the top 10-20% of most deprived areas in the country and is particularly affected by problems associated with the on-street sex trade and Anti Social Behaviour. 

The Bedford Community Safety Partnership conducted a borough-wide survey to understand perceptions and concerns around crime and Anti Social Behaviour with the results showing Midland Road as a key area of concern. The Community Safety Partnership is working with the OPCC in the area due to its exposure to street drinking, homelessness and drug use.

Councillor Jacqui Burnett, Portfolio Holder for Safer and Stronger Communities in Luton, said: “Being successful in obtaining the Safer Street Fund means that a number of sustainable initiatives can be implemented, to improve the area in the long term for the benefit of local residents and visitors.”

Councillor for High Town, Andrew Malcolm, said: “I am really pleased this money has been allocated to High Town. It will be important to ensure local residents are able to shape the proposals and I look forward to seeing the difference the funding will make.”

Councillor Ben Foley, who covers Castle Ward which includes Midland Road, said: "This is really good news - both Cllr Bywater and I have been putting a lot of time and effort in to making sure this part of our ward reaches its potential, and this sort of investment could really help.”

Councillor Lucy Bywater, who also covers the area of Midland Road, said: “This successful bid is such good news for Midland Road residents who have been blighted by crime and anti-social behaviour. And it is a particular area where a high number of households also suffer deprivation. They have the right to feel safe, both at home and in the neighbourhood. We look forward to seeing this funding make a real difference to people’s lives.”

The projects will be run by local authorities overseen by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner who will liaise with local residents’ organisations and those living and working in the neighbourhoods to ensure the community is fully involved in the projects.

“I want local residents and businesses to own these projects with us. They know the area best and can contribute to making these neighbourhoods safer for the community as a whole.  People have every right to feel safe in their homes and it’s been known for years that both Midland Road and High Town experience a disproportionate number of local crime issues - but we want to turn that around,” said PCC Holloway.

Further details will be announced about the project in coming months. The OPCC will be working closely with the Home Office, attending relevant workshops, to ensure the money is spent to best effect. There will be opportunities for residents and businesses in the areas of Midland Road and High Town to share their views and be involved in the project design and implementation.

Residents and community associations wanting to engage with the Safer Streets projects can contact the OPCC on

PCC provides toolkit to help tackle Modern Day Slavery and exploitation children and young people in Bedfordshire
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, is encouraging the public and professionals working with young and vulnerable people to help spot the signs of Modern Day Slavery and exploitation by using a toolkit she has funded. 

The PCC commissioned youth charity, The Mary Seacole Trust, to run the project and put together the ‘Information about Exploitation’ toolkit. The 20-page guide covers Sexual Exploitation, Forced Labour, Forced Criminality, Forced Marriage, Human Trafficking, Organ Harvesting and Domestic Servitude, as a learning aid which can be used to support and empower individuals at risk of or experiencing exploitation. 
“This summer alone has seen Bedfordshire Police release individuals from Eastern Europe who have been trafficked into slavery to work on farms here and live in squalor. They have also safeguarded multiple young women who arrived expecting a prosperous working life in Britain and a new future and who ended up being driven into prostitution. Modern Day Slavery is an issue affecting both the rural and urban communities of Bedfordshire and we needed to provide information to help those at most risk.

“It’s been a great pleasure to work with Mary Seacole whose management team and workforce have impressed me so hugely throughout more than four years of knowing them as Bedfordshire’s PCC. These are people who live and breathe the ambition to help young people and the most disadvantaged to turn their lives around and they were absolutely the best choice to deliver this work to the very individuals at greatest risk of being exploited,” said Commissioner Holloway.
The project was researched over the course of 2019, which involved working with victims of exploitation, some of whom were unaware they were being exploited in terms of pay and accommodation and did not know their legal rights. This led to Mary Seacole staff producing the booklet and online toolkit to be used by professionals as an aid to support and raise awareness of exploitation. An integral part of the development of the toolkit was the involvement of young people who themselves had experience of exploitation and their voices lend impact to the case studies and the themes covered in the toolkit.
The booklet has been distributed across Bedfordshire to youth clubs, schools, the Youth Offending Service and other local organisations. Training was also offered to these organisations to offer additional support. The booklet has been positively received, with feedback stating it is easy to use and understand, relevant and engaging.
Chief Executive for Mary Seacole Housing Association, Matthew Bushell, said: “Thankyou to the Police and Crime Commissioner for supporting organisations and projects who work to prevent offending, protect communities and support victims of crime to cope, recover and move forward. We are especially proud of Mary Seacole Housing Association residents, who through their hard work and dedication were supported to co-produce this resource. Residents drew upon their experiences to create the booklet and online material which provided authenticity”

Dr Helen Connolly, a senior lecturer at the University of Bedfordshire who was part of the team who worked on the Modern Day Slavery Act in 2015, said: “The trafficking and exploitation of children and young people is one of the biggest global challenges of our time and it is an issue that we face locally in our communities in Bedfordshire. The nature of the crime, allied to the general lack of knowledge about child trafficking and exploitation amongst key professionals and within our communities, means that many more vulnerable children and young people will have gone unidentified and unprotected.

“Children and young people’s lives are at risk when they are trafficked and exploited and the long term impacts are cruel and devastating. This resource is an urgent and necessary contribution to tackling the trafficking and exploitation of children and young people in our region. It offers important knowledge about types of child trafficking, responses to child trafficking and its impact. The voices of young survivors in this resource bring the issue alive and offer us all a compelling invitation to do what we can to better protect the lives and futures of trafficked children and young people and those at risk.”

“I’m obviously particularly pleased that such experienced professionals have approved of and supported this project as well as identifying the need to get more information to those at risk of being preyed upon. I’d like to say a very special thankyou though to every young person working with Mary Seacole who opened up and talked about some terrible experiences in their own lives, purely to help others to avoid being trapped in the same way,” said PCC Holloway.

Information Against Exploitation Project
PCC invests more than £30,000 to divert young people from violence and exploitation

Outdoor gym equipment, youth clubs and outreach programmes are among the projects awarded funding under two new schemes spearheaded by Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway to help divert young people from gang, gun and knife crime.

The majority of funding has come from Bedfordshire’s Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU), the flagship partnership for the county aimed at tackling the root causes of serious violence.

“It’s no good telling young people to do something constructive with their time unless that’s exactly what’s on offer in the neighbourhoods that have been worst affected by gang crime, knife and gun carrying and the destruction of young lives. That’s precisely why, working with local authorities and town councils and the communities themselves, the VERU and I are investing in young people and making safe spaces for them,” said PCC Holloway.

Councils in all three local authority areas in Bedfordshire have been awarded VERU funding for projects which will work with and engage young people.

Money will be invested in fitness equipment for People’s Park in the High Town area of Luton as well as paying for floodlights at the Hart Hill Community Centre.

Activities and projects for young people have also been funded in Ampthill, Flitwick, Potton, Sandy, Shefford, Staploe and Toddington, working closely with the town councils and increasing lighting and safety around existing recreational areas and youth centres.

The projects are part of a comprehensive package of interventions being funded by the VERU over the next few months.

The flagship VERU partnership between the police, local authorities, health, charities and communities has been charged with taking a public health approach to the issue of serious youth violence rather than relying on enforcement alone.

More than £40,000 has been invested in projects which can help young people and, in particular, parents who themselves had difficult upbringings.

A specific project will be carrying out education and skills training in prisons, while further funding has been allocated to the county’s Community Safety Partnerships and youth offending services.

The VERU will also be funding training for hospital staff to recognise the signs of vulnerable and exploited young people when they attend with injuries or trauma relating to serious violence.

This is all in addition to the work of VERU staff, such as its team of youth intervention specialists, which is providing specialist support to more than 60 young people and families affected by criminal exploitation.

Staff at the VERU are also leading efforts across Bedfordshire to coordinate activity between all the different agencies which are active in this field.

Serious youth violence fell by 9 per cent in Bedfordshire in the VERU’s first year, equivalent to around 200 fewer victims of such offences in the county. 

Two separate projects to improve the security of two sites in Toddington have also received funded through the PCC’s community safety fund.

“The fact of the matter is that all this investment is producing results which also go hand in hand with the enforcement activities of Bedfordshire Police’s Operation Boson teams which have achieved almost 500 years in prison terms in two years in dealing with the most hardened criminals. The VERU can reach out to young people before they ever reach this stage and this is not only turning long term life chances around but has meant that 200 young people a year on are alive or living without life-changing injuries in Bedfordshire, so we won’t stop here while we have the £880,000 a year funding from the Home Office to continue with this absolutely vital work,” said Commissioner Holloway.

Full list of projects:

Ampthill Town Council

An outreach programme which will engage with young people in the town, replicating a scheme which has run successfully in Flitwick.


Luton Council

Will support the purchase of floodlights for the multi-use games area at the Hart Hill Community Centre.


Luton Council

Active sports equipment purchased for People’s Park in High Town.


Potton Town Council

VERU will help fund a youth club run by Groundworks in the town for one night a week.


Sandy Town Council

The funding will contribute towards the construction of a gym trail across the town, starting in Sunderland Road.


Shefford Town Council

Will improve the security of the council’s youth hub, which was established last year with the help of previous VERU funding.


Staploe Parish Council
Money will pay for utilities connections to two converted shipping containers, allowing them to be brought back into use by local groups.


Toddington Parish Council

Improved security around the cemetery and allotment, as well as sports equipment and a permanent fixed base for a table tennis table.

Assaults on our officers put our communities in danger says PCC


Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has warned that assaulting police officers on duty could put the wider community in danger after it was revealed there have been over 100 assaults on police officers since lockdown began. 

The Government brought in restrictions in response to the Covid-19 pandemic at the end of March and 106 police officers have since been assaulted in the line of duty. 

“Assaults on our police officers, who are the ones protecting us from danger, are absolutely unacceptable. Police put their own lives on the line for the public every single day and have the right to return home safely at the end of each shift, like everyone else. An attack on a police officer can never be considered just part of the job.

“We all need to be able to call upon them in the worst of all circumstances. Bedfordshire Police has less than 1300 officers and if a single officer is lost from duty not only is this appalling for them and their loved ones but our resources, which are already stretched, become an even thinner blue line,” said Commissioner Holloway.

During the height of the pandemic, when the public was advised to stay at home, Bedfordshire Police maintained its presence in and around communities, resulting in a series of highly successful operations. Most recently, Bedfordshire Police worked alongside colleagues from the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) to run two intensive days of action against suspected organised gangs, which resulted in more than 90 kilos of Class A drugs, seven firearms and over £180,000 in cash being seized in the county and twenty-four people were arrested.

Volunteers have also been playing a significant role in keeping Bedfordshire safe. In just one month (17 April – 17 May), Bedfordshire Police Special Constables dedicated a total of 2,277 hours carrying out Covid-19 patrols.

“Our full-time and volunteer officers provide a vital service in keeping everyone safe. They've been carrying out their duties throughout the pandemic which means that many of them have been living away from their families in order to protect their loved ones from the virus. We need to look after them, so they are able to look after us when we need them most,” added the PCC.

Bedfordshire Police Federation Chairman, Steve Bozward, said: “I am proud of my Bedfordshire colleagues who have worked tirelessly throughout this pandemic working on the front line, quickly adapting to ever-changing guidance and continue to engage, explain and encourage in difficult circumstances.

“Assaults continue to rise due to the despicable behaviour of some people who think it is acceptable to assault police and other emergency workers. The only way to deal with thugs who punch, bite and spit at our police officers is to jail them.

“The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 came into force less than two years ago after a concerted Protect the Protectors campaign by the Police Federation and MPs. It doubled the previous maximum jail sentence for assaulting emergency workers from six to 12 months. Now the Government has indicated it will extend the maximum sentence again to two years, which I very much support. Let’s be clear anyone who assaults the very people who keep us safe should expect to face the full force of the law.”

Earlier this year (January 2020), Commissioner Holloway called 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.

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.

Bedfordshire Police’s Chief Constable, Garry Forsyth, said: “An attack on a police officer or other emergency services worker is unacceptable at any time, but is especially galling when they are working on the frontline to keep people safe during a global pandemic.

“I am extremely proud of the efforts of all our officers, staff and volunteers during this unprecedented period, including the support we have given to people who have been abused or assaulted while on duty.

“We have an enhanced duty of care in place for our colleagues and will not tolerate any assault on our workforce. People who want to make a difference in their community can apply to join us with full confidence that they will be supported.”

“After securing additional funding from the Government to provide 160 more officers for the county last year and 156 this year, Bedfordshire Police is currently recruiting. If we're going to attract candidates who will be risking their lives to keep us safe and fight crime, we have to protect them and give them the confidence that assaults will not be tolerated and those responsible will be brought to justice,” added the Commissioner.

Bedfordshire Police is currently recruiting and has opened the application process for the Accelerated Detective Constable Programme (ADCP). To learn more about a career in policing or apply visit

PCC takes the lead on Signpost to enhance services for victims in Bedfordshire


Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has taken the decision to move Signpost, the website and call centre service which provides emotional and practical support for victims of crime and those affected by it, under the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC). The move, which has been effective from the start of July, means Commissioner Holloway will now oversee the service and its employees to build on Signpost's outstanding success so far. 

Commissioner Holloway with Chief Constable Garry Forsyth and Paul Cain from the Police and Crime Panel at the launch of Signpost in 2018 Commissioner Holloway with Chief Constable Garry Forsyth and Paul Cain from the Police and Crime Panel at the launch of Signpost in 2018.Signpost was launched in April 2018 by the PCC, to provide access to quality help, support, advice and guidance, with referrals to a wide range of specialist support organisations. The Signpost Hub, which employs 10 members of staff working as Victim Care coordinators under a line manager, supported 2,452 victims last year and has been working closely with charities and organisations to ensure victims receive the right support. 


“While the business case for the Signpost service came from me and I pay for the service, it had been managed by Bedfordshire Police until now. Having been able to bring in a specialist officer who has extensive experience of delivering high quality victim care from the Metropolitan Police it seemed a perfect time to progress a service which has already been recognised by the police watchdog, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) as ‘notable practise’ to recommend to all police forces in England and Wales.


“Having been responsible for the creation of the Signpost website and call centre service, I’m sure everyone will appreciate how delighted I am with where we have got to so far but I’m absolutely convinced we can build on that success and go even further with a victim care specialist at its helm,” said Commissioner Holloway.

The PCC has appointed Simon Powell as the new Head of Victim Care in Bedfordshire and his responsibilities will include managing Signpost. Simon served as a police officer for seventeen years, working for the Metropolitan Police in various roles including, most recently, victim care, being responsible for delivery of t
he Code of Practice for Victims of Crime (known as the Victims' Code)

“I am thrilled to have joined the OPCC as the Head of Victim Care. Since joining, it has been clear to me that supporting victims is at the heart of what they do. I am working with a great team in the Signpost Hub; we are all passionate about providing the best and most effective victim care. There is always room for growth and improvement, so I will be working closely with our partners to strengthen those relationships and see what more we can do to support those who need us most,” said Simon Powell.

“Simon is absolutely on our wavelength at Bedfordshire Police and the OPCC and we’re very lucky to have him. He is passionate about providing victims of crime and those who have been impacted by it, who may be partners, parents or children of the victim themselves, with the best possible service and I very much look forward to working with him,” said PCC Holloway.

If you have been affected by crime, the Signpost Hub offers free and confidential support to victims in Bedfordshire, whether or not it has been reported to police and irrespective of where and when the crime occurred. Contact 0800 0282887 or visit for further information.

Signpost partners with charity to offer lived experience support for victims of Domestic Abuse

Bedfordshire’s victim support organisation - Signpost - which supported 2,452 victims last year, is partnering with a new charity to provide additional support for victims of Domestic Abuse. Change Ur Life, a charity founded this year, offers support from people who have experienced Domestic Abuse themselves and are able to speak with victims remotely, via telephone and online.

Signpost was launched by Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, in April 2018 to provide emotional and practical support and access to restorative justice for all victims of crime or those affected by crime, who may be partners, parents or children of the victim. It provides a one-stop shop offering access to help, support, advice and guidance, with referrals to a wide range of specialist support organisations via a website - - and freephone call centre helpline on 0800 0282887 . 

“It’s really important for my office and Bedfordshire Police to be working with as many charities and organisations across the county as possible to ensure we have enough support for victims of crime. To be able to offer victims of Domestic Abuse the option to speak to people who have actually experienced this terrible crime themselves and came out the other side helps them to recognise they are not alone and to learn that support can be flexible to their needs, especially during the current health crisis,” said Commissioner Holloway.


The team at Change Ur Life is currently working remotely, but will soon be joining the call centre staff at the Signpost base in Kempston, Bedford. Change Ur Life will receive referrals from Signpost’s Victim Care Coordinators, who man the call centre, and their aim is to offer victims friendly and non-judgmental support.


Juliet Meshi, Operational Manager for Change Ur Life, said: “We are honoured and feel extremely privileged to be offering this service and working with Signpost. I have worked in this field for over a decade and I have gained a wealth of knowledge and experience. My colleagues and I have supported a large number of victims in escaping from violent and abusive relationships; helping people to escape torture, abuse and in some cases, death. We believe no one should have to endure a life of fear and misery. Everyone has the right to live a life free from abuse. I, myself, am a survivor of Domestic Abuse and know first-hand how it feels to be physically and mentally abused. 


“I want to continue my journey in helping victims to establish a life where they no longer live in fear: a life where they can be their true selves and not someone the abuser has manipulated them to be. Our charity is aspiring to grow and with a lot of experience, passion and ambition we aim to help as many victims of Domestic Abuse as possible,” she said.


“I’m really looking forward to welcoming Change Ur Life to the Signpost Hub to work alongside our Victim Care Coordinators, offering support to victims of Domestic Abuse because they have genuinely walked in the shoes of those needing advice to escape and nobody could be better positioned to support others in that dreadful position. 


“Our aim is to continue to find and effective partnerships to provide a fully comprehensive level of care for victims across the county and to continue to work with our existing high quality partners and Change Ur Life really fills a gap in the services that were previously available in Bedfordshire,” said Commissioner Holloway.


If you have been affected by crime, Signpost offers free and confidential support to victims in Bedfordshire, whether or not it has been reported to police and irrespective of where and when the crime occurred. Contact 0800 0282887 or visit for further information.

Programmes to help parents and young people backed by the VERU

More than £40,000 is to be invested in programmes to help parents and young people as a landmark new partnership continues its work to drive down serious youth violence in Bedfordshire.


Work in schools, parental classes and outreach projects are among those being supported by Bedfordshire’s Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) over the coming months.


It is part of a comprehensive package of measures being rolled out by the VERU, which is governed by Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway.


“I am absolutely delighted to have been granted Home Office funding for a second year of VERU projects. The decline in youth violence of just under 9 per cent and the resulting 200 young people who are still alive or living without life-changing injuries are testament to its success in its first year. This unit means services are working together as never before and much of the money is going directly to work in communities, by community members, who are best placed to know what will work by way of diversion from gang membership and knife carrying,” said PCC Holloway.


The latest projects backed with VERU funding include a weekly drop-in session for young people in Luton run by radio station Diverse FM, as well as presentations at the Oakbank school in Leighton Buzzard by offenders who have turned their lives around.


Work with parents is also a major part of the latest funding. Three separate programmes have been funded to ensure coverage across Bedfordshire, with a particular focus on helping parents who had difficult upbringings themselves.


“I’m particularly pleased that one of my objectives as PCC is being realised through the VERU, reaching out directly to parents to help them with ways to establish boundaries and support them in the often difficult parenting of teenagers and younger children,” said Commissioner Holloway.

More details about these programmes are outlined below.


The VERU is also backing a number of other projects, with town councils and mayors being able to award funding to local groups who wish to provide spaces for young people such as youth clubs.


A specific project will be carrying out education and skills training in prisons, while further funding has been allocated to the county’s Community Safety Partnerships and youth offending services.


The VERU will also be funding training for hospital staff to recognise the signs of vulnerable and exploited young people when they attend with injuries or trauma relating to serious violence.


Serious youth violence fell by 9 per cent in the VERU’s first year, equivalent to around 200 fewer victims of such offences in the county.


Pathways to Success – Diverse FM - £10,000

Run by Diverse FM’s community team, this Luton-based outreach project will involve a weekly drop in session offering young people access to information, support and peer mentoring.  As part of the development of this service, Diverse FM will offer employability skills, media skills development and recreational activities, with a view to building skills and encouraging positive life choices by the young people that take part.


Uprising – One Stop Advice - £10,000 

This project will offer parental classes which build skills and resilience.  Its focus will be to provide a service whereby parents, guardians and carers are mentored to increase their ability to put measures in place to manage boundaries and protect their children from exploitation.  This project will particularly focus on building resilience within parents who, due to a lack of confidence and knowledge, would benefit from support. 


Challenging behaviour parenting workshops - Counselling Wellbeing Foundation - £10,000

The foundation will work with parents whose own lives have been impacted by social environmental factors, leasing to issues such as substance abuse or criminal offending. This project will work to improve family relationships and long-term outcomes for the children.  


Baby Faces - FACES - £10,000

The project will support people in the transitional stages of becoming parents and offer them tools and coping strategies to prevent and heal adverse childhood experiences (ACES). 


Prison Me No Way - Oakbank School - £1,500

This coeducational special school in Leighton Buzzard will run presentations to more than 100 students by Prison Me No Way, an agency which helps students via presentations from ex-prisoners who have turned their lives around. Workshops will be specifically tailored to cover county lines, gangs, drugs and violence. This programme will reach those students who are already involved in gang related behaviour and act as an early intervention for those who are vulnerable to being groomed to become involved in this type of lifestyle.

PCC allocates £169,000 to help services supporting Domestic Abuse and Serious Violence victims in Bedfordshire as cases rise during pandemic
******** Warning! This press release discusses attacks of sexual violence **********
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has launched a new fund for services supporting Domestic Abuse and Serious Violence victims during the Covid-19 pandemic, distributing £169,000 which she won from the Ministry of Justice after a rise in violence within the home nationally. 

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has allocated funds made up of £113,000 for services the Police and Crime Commissioner already commissions and a further £56,500 for additional projects.

The Commissioner instructed her office to engage with local organisations and specialists in the causes of Domestic Violence and most effective way to help victims escape from it to understand where the money would be best put to use.
“It’s hugely welcome that this extra emergency help is being made available by the Ministry of Justice during the pandemic. It’s incredibly disturbing that national helplines have seen a surge in calls and this is, naturally, reflected in those needing help right now in this county and those who are likely to have their first chance to access support when the lockdown is raised further,” said PCC Holloway.

The fund was advertised by the Bedfordshire Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) and partners were invited to an online meeting where the fund distribution was explained and discussed against the needs of victims, identified by charities and victim support organisations in the county.
The applications were reviewed with an ambition to support organisations and charities of all sizes, reaching as many victims across the county as possible. Applications needed to address how the funding would support the rise seen in Domestic Abuse during the pandemic and had to relate to the following areas:
·       IDVAs; Independent Domestic Violence Advisors
·       CHIDVAs; Child focused Independent Domestic Violence Advisors
·       Family Court support
·       Face to face or remote counselling for individuals and/or their families
·       Support for particular groups such as Disabled, LGBT victims or those from Black and Minority Ethnic community groups.
“It’s very important to me that these funds are available to help all victims of Domestic Abuse, whatever their gender, cultural background or whether or not they have a disability. Nobody should have to suffer in silence, imprisoned in the very place where they have every right to feel safest; within their own homes,” said Commissioner Holloway.
The following organisations were awarded funds:-
Bedfordshire Police Partnership Trust
The Safer Luton Partnership
Home Start
Reactiv8 the Nation CIC
Living Your Life (Bedfordshire)
Luton All Women Centre
Counselling Foundation
Mindfulness Support Service CIC
The Hope Programme
The projects Commissioner Holloway is supporting range from specialist counselling advice to secure smart devices to allow victims of Domestic Abuse to access ongoing help without having to share a phone, tablet or computer while under the care of the Bedfordshire Family Drug and Alcohol Courts, working to keep families together in care proceedings. 
After informing organisations of their allocations, many shared emails of thanks to the OPCC for its understanding of the need for such emergency provision.
Helen Snowden, Community Relations Manager for Azalea, which works to support women being exploited within the sex industry, often through human trafficking, gave a stark example of the type of victim the funding will now support “The money will go directly to supporting clients that have suffered extreme trauma, like ‘Olivia’. After being gang raped by five men 'Olivia' came to Azalea and wanted to feel safe. She could not talk after the disclosure and simply stayed at the location for a period of contemplation. After a while ‘Olivia’ spoke and told the team that the space in Azalea has been a healing place, not a place of patronising platitudes but of actual peace and healing.”
The PCC also received messages of support for the way the fund is being distributed from the Chief Executives of voluntary organisations the Hope Programme, Embrace, The Children’s Charity and from Domestic Abuse specialists who were asked to give their time to help her office ensure the funds were allocated to those on the front line of Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence. 
PCC wins 24K grant from the Ministry of Justice for victims of Domestic Violence in Bedfordshire to access help safely

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has been successful in her bid to win a further £24,000 to support those affected by Domestic Abuse during the pandemic from an emergency Ministry of Justice Fund, to be distributed by police charity, the Bedfordshire Police Partnership Trust.

This money comes on top of the £60,000 the PCC committed immediately before lockdown to provide emergency accommodation for those fleeing Domestic Abuse during the Covid crisis, with her office finding hotel and rented housing for victims, despite the challenges as so much of the hotel and housing sectors had closed.

The win follows the adoption of the Bedfordshire Police Partnership Trust (BPPT) into the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner only weeks ago, to allow the Commissioner’s office to bid for funds requiring a charitable base. BPPT was launched as a charity in 1997 to help build community safety across the county.

As a result of the pandemic, Bedfordshire Police Partnership Trust (BPPT) applied for funds to support work undertaken by the Family, Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) in Bedfordshire, which is also part-funded by the PCC. Such courts support parents in care proceedings to address drug and alcohol problems and resolve difficulties in the home, to help families stay together. A portion of the new money will directly support the crime prevention needs of the FDAC clients during this pandemic to help them access support confidentially on secure smart devices, and the rest will be available to all victims of Domestic Abuse across Bedfordshire.

“This money represents partnership working in action and is testament to how partners collaborate and innovate at a time of crisis. Bernii Francis, who is the Domestic Abuse lead for the Family Drug and Alcohol Court in Bedfordshire suggested this idea to my office as she has seen at first hand what an impact practical items like safe online equipment can make to those who are escaping a life of abuse, in keeping them and their children safe” said Commissioner Holloway.  

As a result of the grant, FDAC clients will, through the Partnership Trust, be able to access its services safely and remotely, allowing vulnerable FDAC clients to receive support with minimal risk through technology devices which enable remote and private access to key workers and wider support networks. 

Bernii Francis, the Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) Domestic Abuse specialist, said: “Covid-19 has meant that, when accessing support services remotely, some of our clients have had to share computers, tablet devices or smartphones and, in some cases, have no access to any device. The funding will allow us to conduct our Domestic Abuse work safely in these particularly uncertain times; taking the worry away from clients in terms of whether they will still be able to access support. The funding will also allow us to implement additional safety measures ensuring the clients’ needs are met”.

The win follows the adoption of the Bedfordshire Police Partnership Trust (BPPT) into the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to allow the Commissioner’s office to bid for funds requiring a charity to qualify. 

Clare Kelly, Bedfordshire Police Partnership Trust Chief Executive and Chief of Staff to the PCC, said “This early win, after the recent change for the charity, proves exactly why it’s so beneficial; allowing the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to qualify for funds that we would otherwise have been excluded from.

"The commitment of the Police and Crime Commissioner to support victims in Bedfordshire has meant that we can directly align the charity's purpose and activities with the needs of victims of crime that are passed on to us from the victim support services within the Commissioner’s existing grant-funded organisations, such as Signpost - the victim support hub for Bedfordshire. This connection will allow us to both enhance and increase the support of the charity to prevent crime and reduce the threat of violence to the people of Bedfordshire.”

Specialist victim care coordinators are available by phone to assist those affected by any crime, including Domestic Abuse, through the Signpost victims’ hub on confidential freephone number 0800 0282 887. Callers seeking help during the pandemic are asked to leave a message which will be maintained as private and a care coordinator will get back to them. For those who do not want to receive a return call, a directory of quality support services they can access directly is available at Both services were introduced by Commissioner Holloway to improve access to victim support specialisms and targeted counselling, wherever victims live in the county and whatever the crime.

Young people praise online content designed to ease lockdown boredom and PCC passes appeal target to support scheme
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, launched a range of online activities for young people during the Covid-19 pandemic as The James Campbell Collective (JCC) just over four weeks ago which have met with outstanding feedback from the 10 to 25-year-old target group - chalking up over 2000 views in just a month and passing an appeal target for materials to help them join in. 

“Every one of us is finding it a struggle at times to be at home and unable to see all our friends and wider family. This is so much worse for those who are young, whose social network is so hugely important to them, or who need a distraction from others who seek to track them down to cause harm by exploiting them online. The James Campbell Collective, can help with all of this.

“The idea behind the collective was to empower young people to deliver activities which might occupy 10 to 25-year-olds and even create a longer-term hobby or career opportunity as it has for James Campbell who leads the offers each weekday, who is a professional personal trainer and competitive body builder and has created this career from his hobbies at 20.
“We’ve also hit and passed our £1000 Just Giving target to raise money to buy materials to help young people join in; whether that’s an exercise mat or ingredients and utensils for cookery or art materials and I have to thank some incredibly generous and high profile community and faith leaders whose privacy I am respecting by not naming them but, instead, want to give them a huge thankyou now,” said Commissioner Holloway.
The materials to help young people to participate are being distributed by the charity Embrace (Child Victims of Crime) including to those who are living away from their usual homes as parents have had to access emergency accommodation due to Domestic Violence, during the pandemic.
Feedback on The James Campbell Collective channel on Youtube from young people using it to date has included:-
 “Awesome content” 

“Can’t wait to try this” 

“Loved it”

“This is of course precisely why I needed to find young people to deliver services to young people and hobbies that they’ve told both my own office and partners they want a chance to try. It’s no good a middle aged woman like me trying to determine what these might be for them! James was chosen to lead the activities because he was the most experienced Youtuber by far of those who approached me seeking funding and I needed someone to hold the whole project together, provide their own input in a professional way and also introduce the activities of others," said PCC Holloway.
Her staff, at the Bedfordshire Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, continue to work with The James Campbell Collective to arrange a weekly schedule of activities ensuring that a wide variety of content is available for 10 to 25-year-olds in the county. To date there have been over 2185 views of the videos supplied by activity leaders making up the collective.

The content which is designed and aimed at young people around Bedfordshire can be accessed on
YouTube and Instagram, Monday to Friday until September, during both term time and school holidays. The range of activities include fitness sessions from exercise with James Campbell, Luton Town Football Club training sessions, boxing led by the organisation Boxing Saves Lives, cookery with Reactiv8 to chess and mindfulness courses with At10tive and the YMCA.  

The Luton Town Football Club Community Trust has been providing daily videos each weekday from the beginning of May as part of The James Campbell Collective. These online training sessions have been very well received and positive feedback has led to the development of additional content to meet the interests of participants.

At10tive created weekly chess video classes, taking new players from the first steps of how to play and building skills along the way. The feedback received from these Youtube videos and the degree of engagement has been so impressive that At10tive now offer one to one sessions with young people who would like to learn more or who prefer to learn on this basis.

The OPCC commissioned the charity Embrace Child Victims of Crime to supply young people who are engaging with the activities on the YouTube channel with free skipping ropes and chess sets so they can follow along. The money to cover the costs of these items was raised by the PCC's JustGiving campaign and raised over the target of £1000.

“The generosity of the people of Bedfordshire has meant that young people who may not have the means to provide their own equipment are able to participate fully in the programmes we've arranged, which then offers a fairer playing field and not one driven by social circumstances” said Commissioner Holloway.

To see the options for the free skipping ropes and chess sets, follow the link below: 

“The James Campbell Collective is going really well, definitely providing those who want it with a lot of choice and hours of activities and entertainment, especially as we get further into lockdown and people begin to get bored with being sedentary. When they start to look for things to do, we will be there” said James Campbell.

The PCC has also been supported by partners such as Seeds of Change, Embrace and voluntary organisations for children, young people and families in promoting the work of The James Campbell Collective and its range of activities to the young people they work with. 

The James Campbell Collective can be accessed each weekday until September on YouTube at:

It can also be found on Instagram at: