Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has become the first PCC in the country to fund Family, Drug and Alcohol Courts (FDACs) which have been proven to be 50% better than any other method of care proceedings at helping parents to shake off addiction and retain care of their children five years on.
Commissioner Holloway has agreed to provide £50,000 of funding and also to pay for a specialist Domestic Abuse Expert to support parents attending the Family Drug and Alcohol Court.
She also provided the lead Judge - Judge Patrick Peruško - with the services of her Chief of Staff to help other key partners across Bedfordshire, such as those in the NHS, Public Health, Mental Health services and Safeguarding leads of the three local authorities to work together to bring all these parties into partnership to fund and support the unique FDAC process.
Family Drug and Alcohol Courts require a parent with addiction to agree a formal rehabilitation plan and work very regularly with the Family Court Judge and an FDAC team of specialists over a 26 week period, to address their behaviour and build better relationships with both their children and themselves.
“It’s fair to say that Judge Peruško had me convinced and signing on the dotted line where financial support was required within the first hour of meeting me. What was absolutely obvious was not only that Patrick was full of energy and a real passion for the benefits but, having run the Family Drug and Alcohol Courts in Milton Keynes, he’d seen the enormous benefits for himself,” said PCC Holloway.
“Not only that, but Judge Peruško can produce evidence that this process works to lift parents out of addiction and helps them to re-build family life, keeping children in the home where it is safe to do so, as not one but two universities - Lancaster and Brunel - have evaluated the programme and the results speak for themselves,” said the PCC.
Both university studies found that parents, five years on from graduating from the Family Drug and Alcohol Court, where they worked through their problems with a judge and specialist support workers linked to FDAC, were more likely by half to have controlled their addiction and retained care of their children compared with those who were subject to standard care proceedings.
“It was clear from the findings that parents felt they were being treated as individuals and being supported more than judged and that they built really strong relationships with the judges overseeing the programme and the specialists to whom they have access as a result of going into FDAC,” she said.
The grant funding from the Commissioner is the single biggest financial contribution to the FDAC project in Bedfordshire. In another first, Bedfordshire’s Clinical Commissioning Group has provided the services of a highly experienced psychiatrist to enable the psychiatric screening of parents, via the East London Foundation Trust (ELFT).
FDAC has also made arrangements for consultations with child and adolescent psychologists in support of the mental health of children.
Public Health in Central Bedfordshire, Luton and Bedford has also supplied a funding grant for a Substance Misuse specialist to support the court. They are also providing FDAC Parent Mentors who have experienced similar issues to provide a supportive voice to parents outside those hours usually worked by FDAC and its specialist workers.
All three local authorities’ Directors of Children's Services in Luton, Bedford and Central Bedfordshire are supporting the programme and will refer suitable families to Family Drug and Alcohol Courts.
The charity, The Marks Trust, is also providing office space and room for parent assessments for the new courts and is committed to working with FDAC parents who ‘graduate’ the scheme, to help them gain employment as they rebuild their lives.
"I'm absolutely delighted that so many agencies have come together and seen the benefits that the Family Drug and Alcohol Court can bring to troubled families in Bedfordshire. Children belong in families. That is where they deserve to be. FDAC gives them the best chance to be with their parents by helping parents achieve and maintain abstinence in a problem solving, therapeutic, court process,” said Judge Peruško.
"Bedfordshire Family Drug and Alcohol Court is the first FDAC nationally to secure support from our Police and Crime Commissioner who also recognised the benefits of funding a specialist Domestic Abuse worker to work within the team. That commitment has drawn in other partners to work alongside children's services in Bedford, Luton and Central Bedfordshire. Public Health in all three authorities and Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group are partners. No other FDAC has such a broad base of support. We also have funding from The Marks Trust, a local charity assisting people who have come across difficult times”, he said.
There will be two Family Drug and Alcohol courts in Bedfordshire; one in Bedford, overseen by Judge Peruško, with Judge Spinks running the court in Luton.
The Bedfordshire Family Drug and Alcohol Court was launched by Judge Perusko, the PCC, FDAC manager Beverley Sorensen and the three local authority Directors of Children's Services, at a presentation for professionals at Bedford Magistrates’ Court on Thursday (17 October), which was also attended by a number of judges who support the FDAC process. A similar launch event is to take place in Luton later this month. The first hearings are due to start next month in November.
There are 11 FDACs across the country, with the project in Bedfordshire the first to be established in conjunction with other agencies outside of local authority children's social services.
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has become the first PCC in the country to fund Family, Drug and Alcohol Courts (FDACs) which have been proven to be 50% better than any other method of care proceedings at helping parents to shake off addiction and retain care of their children five years on.
A Rural Crime Handbook which gives advice on a range of issues such as fly-tipping, hare coursing and sheep worrying has been launched in a bid to help tackle countryside crime.
Put together by our Reduction Officer with contributions from a number of partners, including the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), the Environment Agency, the Home Office and local farmers, the handbook contains advice on crimes which affect Bedfordshire’s rural communities, such as modern day slavery.
It was launched at a special event at the Rufus Centre in Flitwick on Thursday (10 October) as part of the Rural Crime Week of Action, and has been supported by Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway.
She said: “My Police and Crime Plan specifies as a priority that we must give a fair share of policing to those who live in the country, just as we do to those who live in our towns. Therefore, it’s absolutely imperative that we work with farmers and residents of rural parishes and produce a consistent approach from policing to crimes which take place because they occur in such locations.
"This handbook marks an important step forward for Bedfordshire Police and the residents of rural communities alike and it’s particularly timely that it’s been launched in Rural Crime Week.
"Our rural crime team, Op Sentinel Rural, has chalked up very significant successes in the past year. Targeted operations concerning cars and vans that haven’t been appropriately insured, taxed or which are without MOTs, have deprived those involved in criminality in the countryside of the use of the road. We’ve worked with neighbouring forces and have focused on matters such as hare coursing together to prevent damage to crops and the illegal betting of tens of thousands of pounds on the outcomes."
Rural businesses are often seen as a soft target by thieves for a number of reasons. Many farms, equestrian premises and industrial estates are remote, spread over a large area of land, unoccupied overnight and contain plant and materials of high value.
Also in attendance was Deputy Chief Constable, Trevor Rodenhurst, who said: “Rural crime can be complex and challenging to investigate. It isn't just low level offences, as a range of serious and organised crime can take place in our rural areas, so it's important we engage and work closely with our partners and communities.
“This handbook is an excellent example of the importance of such partnership working. I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the handbook and Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway for supporting its launch.”
Oliver Rubinstein, from the NFU, said: “Rural crime is an enormous issue for farmers in Bedfordshire and nationally is estimated to have cost the UK £50m last year.
"Unfortunately many farmers have already had to take quite dramatic steps to limit their vulnerability, such as blocking off field entrances and digging ditches, however, this handbook is a valuable resource that we can share with members to help them make sure they’ve taken all the necessary steps.”
“Sadly, many of our communities in our smaller towns and villages and farmers too have found their lives blighted by the total lack of consideration and damage caused by nuisance motorcycles, quad bikes and even hand bikes. The whole idea of funding this specialist camera gear is to allow Bedfordshire Police officers to capture images to evidential standards to make it easier to prosecute such individuals.
“They don’t just deliver a tap on the wrist. Stolen bikes are easy to identify, as they usually have had the stock or registration details removed, and in these circumstances they are crushed by Bedfordshire Police,” said the Commissioner.
Problems caused by nuisance motorbikes include: general anti-social behaviour, noise, damage caused to road signs and danger to themselves, other road users and pedestrians.
This year, Operation Meteor is looking to reduce the number of offenders and motorcyclists. They aim to do this by developing new strategies to identify and prosecute offenders and create innovative ways to disrupt those responsible. The Force has also invested in brand new off-road police motorcycles and have newly trained off-road police motorcyclists.
The officers who are on the Operation Meteor deployment respond to 101 and 999 calls from the public, with high-visibility patrols aiming to deter potential offenders.
“The Force has been building its capability to deter, disrupt and catch those responsible for nuisance biking, especially off road, where bikes can cause hundreds of pounds worth of damage to crops. I’ve seen for myself evidence of the success of the off-road police bikers in catching those responsible in Dunstable, for example, preventing them from getting away along the busway or bridle pathways out of town.
“The sad fact is that these crimes generally peak during the school holidays and Bedfordshire Police is ready for those who have such a blatant disregard for the safety and property of others,” said Commissioner Holloway.
Constable Andrew Parsons said “Thanks to the PCC, Op Meteor having this new high-quality camera means that we don’t need to get into any form of chase, conflict or confrontation now because we can capture what we need to on the camera.
“From these photos, we can identify known offenders. We then distribute the other images to the intelligence units of other forces to assist in identification as it is well-known that the majority of the offenders come from outside of Bedfordshire. Most commonly, from as far as London and Hemel Hempstead.
“This camera has already been used in the quarries in Sundon and Houghton Regis and is a really good bit of equipment as it has already proven very successful, giving good identification of the bikes.”
“I’m delighted of course that the camera equipment has already proved its worth in Sundon and Houghton Regis and I hope news of the continuing work of Op Meteor and the enhanced off road capability of the Force will send home the message that we will not tolerate this behaviour" said Commissioner Holloway.
An additional 54 officers will be recruited into Bedfordshire Police in 2020-21, following the latest government announcement on its three-year police recruitment uplift.
The figure for Bedfordshire is part of the first wave of 6,000 new police officers to be recruited nationally, under the plans announced earlier this year to achieve an uplift of 20,000 officers over three years.
The first year target allocated for forces is based upon the existing funding formula for all police forces in England and Wales.
The force’s current recruitment window has so far seen high interest in people applying to become a police officer and registering their interest for further information about a career in policing, but there is still time to apply before applications close on 13 October.
Deputy Chief Constable Trevor Rodenhurst said: “We are thrilled to receive funding to employ an additional 54 police officers in the first year of the government’s campaign.
“We want to make Bedfordshire a safer place for all, and with this additional 54 officers we hope to make a real impact in the community.
“We hope to recruit officers from all backgrounds and walks of life to serve their neighbourhoods, and of course welcome applicants from further afield or those who want to consider a brand new career.
“Bedfordshire is a richly diverse county with a mix of urban and rural challenges. If you want to make an impact within Bedfordshire and help us protect the public and fight crime, apply today and help make the changes you want to see.”
Within Bedfordshire, the 54 officers will be recruited over and above those hired to fill existing vacancies and in addition to the extra 40 officers promised by the increase in the Council Tax precept.
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway said: “We had been told to expect around 18 officers so 54 is a significant improvement and reflects the fact that the Home Office is fully aware that Bedfordshire has to be treated as a special case. I’ve evidenced the need for 440 officers and 80 detectives in total but the uplift has to start somewhere and I’m grateful for it, of course.”
Police officers deal with a range of call outs daily, ranging from supporting vulnerable people, continuing the fight against drug and substance misuse, the exploitation of children and adults and many more. If you have the drive to help people and face issues head on, visit our website and find out more about how to become a police officer:
The PCC was joined by Chief Constable Garry Forsyth, Chief Superintendent David Boyle, Inspector Nick Masters of the Biggleswade Community Hub and Sergeant Ian Leeson as she wanted the parishes and their councillors to have the opportunity to ask questions of senior officers, to hear some examples of the best of their work taking place in Bedfordshire’s communities over the past year and for the PCC to bring them up to date with news on funding and officer recruitment.
The PCC opened the conference by stating “First of all, this has been quite an extraordinary year for me in terms of what I have been able to bring into Bedfordshire Police with the assistance of the top team and the Chief Finance Officer in terms of rewriting the traditional definition of Special Grants from the Home Office to bring home £4.571m to Bedfordshire which, together with further grants to tackle youth violence, represents the largest surge in central funding for the Force for over 20 years.”
The Commissioner explained that, even before the current promised uplift in police numbers, she had been able to support the Force to double the response to Serious Organised Crime and youth violence and bring about more recruitment in a single year than since austerity began.
“The Special Grant was absolutely vital to allow the Force to double the specialist unit, Op Boson, which concentrates on gang, gun and knife crime, and also to allow me to proceed with plans to recruit 160 new PCs this financial year,” she said.
The Commissioner confirmed that the first tranche of officers to be delivered under the newly announced uplift is likely to reflect the current way all police funding is distributed.
“I, of course, have very strong views that the forces in most need, such as Bedfordshire, should have a greater share but, given the timescale against which the first few thousand officers are being brought online, we understand that the share is being based on the current National Revenue Expenditure. This will, at least, give us an extra 18 to 21 officers and this will be on top of the 160 already planned."
The PCC also confirmed that, in addition to the Special Grant, another of which she has just applied for, Bedfordshire Police has won a further £1.36m this year to concentrate on work to alleviate youth violence and £880,000 for a Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit, working with local partners, including councils to focus on the issue.
Chief Constable Forsyth spoke about the financial struggles Bedfordshire Police face every day. Chief Constable Forsyth said “If our income from the Government increased, then somewhere else suffers as the main pot never increases, it just gets shared out differently. That’s why it’s so important that the overall funding formula is revised but we’re still very grateful for the extra officers of course. It causes us some ‘problems’ with how to train them and where to put them but these are nice problems to have after years of having to drive money out of policing.”
He also explained the difference in modern demands on police in terms of crime and why traditional policing of villages and smaller towns has had to change,
“Here’s an analogy for you. The iPhone was not around 10 years ago. A normal 64GB iPhone can hold 11,000 complete works of Shakespeare. We have to sometimes look for just one line in that to satisfy disclosure requirements. There is artificial intelligence that can do this for us, but that is very, very expensive and none of this investment delivers cops to your front door or out on the street and can’t do the things that you want to see. So we have to get a balance between insuring our cops have got the right level of technology that enables them to keep pace with the criminals and do their jobs and also satisfy the need that you all have for visible local policing that understands your issues.”
Chief Superintendent Boyle, who heads up Community Policing explained the Force’s approach to problem solving.
“I am really thankful over the last couple of years to see the investment we have had, in not only the Community Hubs but also in supporting the rural crime team. There is a very bespoke service there to help and support our rural communities.”
This year, the parishes and councillors requested to hear more about the work of the eight different Community Hubs of Inspectors, Sergeants, PCs and PCSOs and the priorities of the Community teams. The PCC used this as an opportunity to discuss the recent Community Hub Awards event, held on 19th September 2019.
“We decided to have a Community Policing event, where we asked each of the Hubs around the county, to nominate some of the most successful problem solving officers, but to also identify those members of the public who have gone out of their way to work with Bedfordshire Police to bring about some of those results.”
Insp Nick Masters, talked the conference through the exceptional work of his Biggleswade-based Hub, in conjunction with Shefford Town Council, to drive down Anti-Social Behaviour in the town, known as Op Leithen.
Insp Masters said “I was delighted to have this opportunity to present the hard work of our team and our partners to an audience that were keen to hear the detail of the practical application of our problem solving and its benefits to our Community.”
He was accompanied by Sgt Ian Leeson who spoke of the outstanding operation - Op Lemon - around Bedford Prison, working with residents and surrounding businesses as well as the prison itself, to dramatically reduce “throw overs”, where items of value for re-sale in HMP Bedford, are thrown over the walls to inmates, ranging from drugs and tobacco to toiletries.
Chief Superintendent Boyle said “I’m really grateful to all those who attended, It was a good turn out with representatives from across the county. It’s really great to be able to explain and highlight some examples of the work carried out by our Community Policing teams and the investment the Force is putting into getting more officers working with communities across the county.”
Bedfordshire’s PCC, Kathryn Holloway, held the first Community Hub Thank you Awards to single out both members of the public and officers involved in exceptional work to solve problems in towns and villages at Woburn Abbey and to “spread the word” of what Community Police are delivering across the county. (19 September 2019).
The event was attended by 140 guests including officers from the eight Community Hubs based in towns across Bedfordshire - in Leighton Buzzard, Dunstable, Biggleswade - covering the North Bedfordshire towns and villages, Ampthill - based at the Community Fire Station, Bedford and Luton, which has Hubs based at Luton Police Station and Futures House at Marsh Farm and one at the Airport, plus members of the rural crime team Op Sentinel Rural, who work out of both Dunstable and Riseley, at either end of the county.
The ceremony, held in the Sculpture Gallery at Woburn recognised both individual officers for successful problem solving operations and members of the public, nominated by each Hub team themselves and by rural crime officers.
“This was a fantastic opportunity to spread the word about what Bedfordshire Police’s Community Hub officers have been up to over the past year to solve problems and help communities in all our major towns and the villages and also to say a huge ‘thankyou’ to those members of the public who have really got involved to help their local teams to solve problems.
“Those members of the public who received awards told me they were over-whelmed that the officers themselves had singled them out and it was also absolutely right that those officers who had presided over exceptionally successful problem solving were recognised,” said the PCC.
The problem-solving police operations presented to the audience included an overall winner, Op Yellow, designed to drive down drugs and other saleable goods being thrown into the grounds of Bedford Prison and other examples included a community wide effort to reduce Anti Social Behaviour in Shefford - whose Mayor, Paul Mackin, received the award from the Biggleswade Hub for his outstanding help to the local police team as well as work to end drug dealing and intimidation of residents at Ruthin Close, Luton which turned around the neighbourhood, according to residents.
The Commissioner was inspired to hold the event, which the Force now plans to stage annually, by the yearly Community Cohesion Awards.
“I have really taken on board how important the annual Community Cohesion Thankyou Awards have been in building strong bonds of trust and confidence in local policing in our communities in Luton and Bedford, primarily, and across our diverse neighbourhoods where trust in police has not been strong, historically. It’s incredibly important to me for our smaller towns and villages to enjoy exactly the same relationship with Bedfordshire Police and, now they have dedicated local Community teams, this was the perfect event to start to build this,” she said.
The PCC was keen to stress that the event was provided at reasonable cost, thanks to the generosity of the Duke and Duchess of Bedford.
“I'm so grateful to the Duke and Duchess for allowing us to use the Sculpture Gallery, its magnificent gardens, conservatory and reception rooms free of charge and they also were kind enough to provide welcome drinks for all who attended. This meant that the very first Community Hub Thankyou Awards got off to a quite superb start in a wonderful setting where officers and members of the public alike told me how delighted they were to have been invited,” said Commissioner Holloway.
The event was also addressed by Bedfordshire Police’s Chief Constable, Garry Forsyth. He said: “I was delighted to part of this event to celebrate the fantastic work of our officers, staff, community partners and members of the public. I often hark back to Sir Robert Peel’s principle that the police are the public and the public are the police, and that has shown at the Community Hub Awards ceremony.
“I would like to thank all of you for the continued support you provide to our communities and to our partners and public, for helping to keep our communities safe and reducing crime.”
Representatives of each of the Hubs and the rural crime team presented a resume of the work of which they were most proud over the year and described their approach to solving local problems, before going on to nominate the work of a key partner.
The audience were also addressed by international Community Policing expert Sylvia Chennery who regularly judges neighbourhood policing competitions. “I can honestly say that some of the examples we’ve heard about here tonight are among the very best that I have heard about from any police force, anywhere,” she said.
Community Impact Award:
Operation Yellow – Sgt Ian Leeson, PC Emily Keech, John McKinney (Bedford Borough Council). Graeme Vann (Security HMP Bedford) PJ Butler (HMP Bedford Governor)
OP Leithan - Sgt Rachael Welch, PCSO Ann Jeeves, PC Sarah Cluff, Paul Mackin (Shefford Town Council), Alan May (Central ASB Officer)
OP Loc (Ruthin Close) - Sgt Richard Cunningham, PC Michael Trinder, Laura Chalmers (Luton Borough Council ASB Case Manager) PC James Norman
VARAC - Superintendent Jacqueline Whittred & Shelia Forder
Mental Health Street Triage – PC James Biggs, Rachel Martin (East of England Ambulance), Sarah Clarke (ELFT)
Partners in Problem Solving:
Tara Lynch & Laura Chalmers (Luton Borough Council ASB Case Managers)
Sarah Keena (BPHA Housing Officer)
OP Highgate – PC Sharon Cummings, PCSO Daniel James, Christina Rowe (Bedford BID), Andy Cooper (Environmental Health), Sarah Stevens (Bedford Borough Council)
PCSO Spyridon Apostolidis
Innovation in Engagement:
PCSO 2813 Rachel Carne
PC Emma Underwood & PCSO Claire Hughes
Problem Solver of the Year:
PC Kate Rowley
The following community members were nominated by each hub for their work in their respective communities and were also presented with a certificate:
Airport – Tamara Cato
Rural Crime Hub – Martin Towler
Dunstable – Sharon Warboys
Houghton – Sharon Knott
Luton – Peter Appleyard
Leighton Buzzard – Stephen Swaine
North Urban – Beccy Campbell-Grieve
North Rural – Paul Mackin
Around £35,000 has been awarded to community projects to divert young people away from knife crime and other serious violence.
Grassroots initiatives across the county will benefit from a portion of the £1.4 million funding awarded to us to tackle serious youth violence.
The successful projects include refurbishment work and outreach groups who can engage with communities through activities such as sport, music and drama.
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, said: “This money is particularly vital because we all know that only the communities themselves understand which approach to driving down knife carrying, gang membership and gun use are going to work with their own young people.
“In Bedfordshire, I’ve insisted that we go one step further and put the bids for these funds before panels made up of members from the worst affected communities, so that they have a say at the earliest possible part of this process.
“It’s clear, isn’t it, that neither police nor local authorities can impose solutions that work? It’s no good just saying we must work together with our public, we must actually get on and do it. That means that I’m not just looking for all the ‘usual suspects’ to apply for grant funding, but for brand new projects.
“My office is prepared to support them to the hilt but, of course, this means that they have to understand from the get-go that the money comes from the Government, my office and the force, and that means that there is an absolute requirement for every single person linked to the projects to be completely separate from any active involvement in any form of criminality, including the use of drugs.”
We are one of 18 police forces across the country to receive funding from the Home Office to tackle serious youth violence.
The funding so far has been spent on patrols to target hotspots which have seen an increase in serious youth violence, as well as speeding up the force’s forensic work.
Bedfordshire has also received £880,000 to establish a Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit, working with partners such as councils and the health service to tackle the root causes of violence and exploitation.
Around a quarter of this funding is also due to be made available to community projects that can divert young people away from gangs.
The announcement comes in the same week that we are supporting Operation Sceptre – a week-long operation dedicated to tackling knife crime.
During the week, the force has been running operational activity including weapons sweeps, to recover weapons that have been hidden for future use or discarded, and patrols in knife crime hotspot areas.
Bedfordshire Police’s Assistant Chief Constable, Jackie Sebire, who is also the National Police Chiefs Council’s lead for serious youth violence, said: “Investing in and strengthening our communities to help them divert young people away from knife crime is absolutely crucial if we are to get a grip on this problem.
“As has been said time and again, increased enforcement, while having an important role in removing the highest threats and giving communities some respite, cannot be the sole answer. Prevention, as always, is better than cure.
“That’s why I am delighted to be helping such a diverse range of projects in our communities.”
Mastroe - £5,000
Change The Narrative (CTN) project to be delivered in Bedford
This project will provide media training, mentoring and development to 12 young people over the course of 10 weeks. The training will incorporate key aspects of media including photography, videography and video editing. The trainees will work together in teams / groups to create video content geared towards changing mindsets and informing young people of the dangers of a life of violence and other opportunities for success outside of crime and violence. The programme will also be used to also teach the trainees project management.
Houghton Regis Town Council - £5,000
Serious Knife Crime – prevention and awareness to be delivered in Dunstable and Houghton Regis
The programme will use peer education to deliver anti-knife messages around actions, outcomes and consequences. The Youth Council will promote the opportunity for young people to sign up to form a group to undertake a programme of education and awareness, including a visit to the Ben Kinsella Exhibition. The programme will help to develop their awareness and understanding and the group will use their knowledge to complete a peer education programme / anti-knife campaign to the wider community.
Shefford Town Council - £5,000
Refurbish a redundant building for youth development work in Shefford
Over the last few years Shefford Town Council has been developing a youth strategy that allows provision of facilities for young people to encourage them to take an interest in their community.
With the provided funding they will bring back into use a building that was built and used previously as a changing room for a junior football club. They will use the building for a dedicated Youth Hub. The location lends itself to many creative activities, including sports.
However, this space will also be used to facilitate a bike repair project, mentoring young people, employment support and drop in sessions.
RAMDA - £4,980
Engage, Inspire and accomplish based in Luton
This project is working with families from ethnic minority backgrounds, especially the Somali community and their young people, by diverting young people with issues around serious violence away from offending and re-offending through sports activities, leisure and group workshops.
It will reduce social isolation for children and young people through facilitating activities, and will also support families to access development support.
Halleema Ali - £4,950
22 Seconds To Murder- looking to deliver out of Luton
22 Seconds To Murder was launched in February 2019 and proved so popular that it gained media publicity on the BBC. It was in memory of Azaan Kaleem, who was the victim of a fatal 22 second attack. This project engages young people through the medium of art and performances, by tackling a heavy topic in a creative way. It also allows families, staff and other relevant organisations to be part of the conversation, by providing a holistic approach.
Bruno’s Brazilian Soccer School, based in the Bedford area - £5,000
Unite to learn and play
Unite to learn and play is an educational project aimed at 40 men and boys from the ages of 16 to 25. The project will run all year round and the objective is to run classroom-based English and Maths lessons, and employment skills workshops, combined with football training and games. They will also run gang workshops to educate vulnerable teenagers away from joining a gang by providing them with the tools to say ‘no’ to gangs, and where necessary to leave a gang they may already be part of.
The project will run a Saturday league football team for the students who regularly attend, in order to give an incentive for them and to also bring different nationalities and cultures together. The project will be working in partnership with McDonald’s and He By Juniors barber shop on Midland Road, who will offer work experience and possibly job opportunities to anyone who attends the course.
Grand Union Housing Group - £4,950
Think B4 U Bother - outreach based in Central Bedfordshire
Think B4 U Bother is a weekly detached youth work programme and resource kit. It has three strands:
- Educational – Awareness raising
- Physical - diversionary activity
- Mentoring - supporting those in need.
The Grand Union youth team feel that meeting, supporting and engaging with young people who are considered hard to reach, at risk or involved in criminal exploitation or anti-social behaviour, and going to the places they hang out, has a higher chance of success.
This project focusses on the youth workers walking to parks, streets, bus stops and other hotspot areas identified to build rapport and engage with young people. Some young people may also engage in sporting activity set up through the project.
"Since raising a formal complaint concerning Bedfordshire’s Inspector of Constabularies, HMI Zoe Billingham, on 10 July 2017, I have waited for more than two years for HMICFRS, the organisation which judges legitimacy and ethical behaviour in policing, to finally respond publicly. The Chief Inspector of Constabularies, Sir Tom Winsor, has now published his interpretation of events, which I do not recognise. Sir Tom engaged one of the most experienced QCs in the country to lead a lengthy independent investigation into my complaint; Mr Tom Kark (the former lead counsel to the Mid Staffordshire Inquiry, who has practised as a barrister for approximately 37 years). Yet instead of publishing Mr Kark QC’s independent report, Sir Tom has chosen instead to publish his own findings.
Bedfordshire Police's former Chief Constable, Mr Jon Boutcher, also raised a formal complaint with HMICFRS concerning HMI Billingham and we are now calling on Sir Tom Winsor to publish the executive findings of Mr Kark QC’s independent report concerning both of our complaints.
We do not accept that sending HMI Billingham - a senior public official required by her Terms of Engagement to observe the Nolan Principles at all times - on a management course, is an appropriate sanction by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector in response to our complaints.
Jon Boutcher and I will now be inviting the Home Affairs Select Committee to review this matter and to consider Sir Tom’s handling of our complaints in the light of all of the evidence, together with the worrying lack of a transparent Complaints process at HMICFRS.”
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, and Chief Constable, Garry Forsyth, were joined by Britain’s Got Talent finalists PC Dave Wardell and the police dog which saved his life, “Fabulous Finn” as they opened the Force’s 2019 Family Fun Day (Sunday 1 September 2019).
PC Wardell is still a serving member of the Dogs Unit which serves Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire, although Finn has now retired from police duties and still lives with PC Wardell and his family.
PC Wardell explained to the crowd that he had honed the magic act which took him and Finn to the BGT final with the show’s producers to draw attention to the campaign for “Finn’s Law” for tougher penalties for those who attack police service animals, which became law in June 2019, after Finn, who had already been stabbed by an escaping burglar, threw himself in front of him to save PC Wardell from a fatal blow. Two vets fought to save the life of the heroic dog.
“There’s no doubt at all that Finn risked his life to save me. He usually slept in a kennel but, when he came home, I made a bed up on the floor and slept beside him for four weeks. I’d been stabbed in the hand myself but the physical injuries were the least of it; he helped me get over the mental effects of the attack just as much as I helped him get over his physical injuries, “ PC Wardell told the crowd.
“People think I’ve become a millionaire through Britain’s Got Talent but I haven’t made a penny; it was always about drawing attention to Finn’s Law.”
PC Wardell confirmed that Finn had made a huge impact on BGT lead judge, Simon Cowell; a well know dog lover: “Simon Cowell has invited us to his home for dinner to meet Squiddly and Diddly, his own two dogs, and he also made a substantial
contribution to a German Shepherd charity as a result of us appearing on the show,” he said.
Chief Constable Garry Forsyth opened the 2019 Bedfordshire Police Family Fun Day which took place on the sports field where the police Dogs Unit also train, on Sunday. In brilliant sunshine, the Fun Day attracted 14,725 visitors this year. Chief Constable Garry Forsyth said: “The Family Fun Day was an amazing day and I want to express a huge thank you to everybody who contributed and everyone who came to support the event. It was great to see so many people enjoying themselves. “We were very fortunate to have the day opened by Britain’s Got Talent finalists PC Dave Wardell and Finn, the police dog that saved his life. There were so many stalls showcasing what policing is all about and getting people involved in the important work that we do, including impressive displays from the dog unit and an exciting landing from the police helicopter by our colleagues from NPAS. To top it off we raised a huge amount of money for our force charity Embrace CVOC supporting child victims of crime. “These events are so important for the force to build relationships with our local communities, we loved meeting you all and we hope to see you at next year’s event.”
PCC Kathryn Holloway, a former presenter with TV-am and Sky News, then interviewed PC Wardell and met Finn. “It was an absolute pleasure to meet Dave and Finn and to hear this quite remarkable story from the man himself. It sounds more like a feature film than real life and should be made into one in my view: a police dog who forms an incredible bond with his handler and goes on to save his life, despite receiving horrendous injuries in the process; the law seeing an attack on a police dog as “criminal damage” so a campaign is launched for tougher penalties which actually becomes law. The two of them going on to the final of Britain’s Got Talent without a dry eye in the house - certainly not mine - and also winning a Cruft’s Award for human friendship with dogs, this summer - you couldn’t make it up!
“No wonder Dave and Finn were such a draw that almost 15,000 people from families across Bedfordshire poured in to meet them and enjoy all the other attractions on such a fantastic day. What a way to end the school holidays.” she said.
On 5 October 2016, Finn was attacked with a 10” hunting knife by a burglar trying to escape as he was pursued. As a direct result, The Annual Welfare (Service Animals) Bill was published in parliament by Sir Oliver Heald MP and received its second reading in June. The legislation will remove a section of the current law of self defence, often used by those who harm a service animal, and aims to increase maximum sentences for such attacks to five years imprisonment.
Finn was stabbed in the head and received extensive stab wounds to his abdomen in the attack but is now enjoying his retirement with the Wardell family.
The Family Fun Day also included a visit from the National Police Air Service (NPAS) helicopter, displays by the Dogs Unit, a chance for families to try on uniforms and get into police vehicles to sound the sirens and set off blue lights, a visit from the motor cyclists of the Road Policing Unit and partners such as Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, face painting by members of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, fairground rides and food stalls, including a Caribbean Food Shack run by Reactive8, who support ex-offenders to reform, on both sides of the HMP Bedford prison doors, on behalf of the PCC.
“In my opinion, it was the best Fun Day so far and not just because of the weather; Dave and Finn really made the day for me and everyone who got to meet them,” said Commissioner Holloway.
The Home Office confirmed this week (Monday) that Bedfordshire has been awarded £880,000 to set up the specialist unit to bring together different organisations including police, local government, health, community leaders and other key partners to tackle violent crime at its root cause, in a whole system approach.
“Serious violence has been on the rise nationally and, sadly, this is no different in Bedfordshire which also faces the scourge of gang, gun and knife crime; where we have seen young people murdered and seriously injured on our streets, with a stabbing virtually every day.
“It is absolutely crucial that we have a genuine partner approach to tackle this issue in society and that everyone plays a part in steering young people away from becoming involved in such crime before it is too late," said Commissioner Holloway.
Bedfordshire is one of 18 forces across the country set to benefit from the £35m Government funding to tackle knife crime and serious youth violence through specialist violence reduction units.
The initial plans for the VERU were first announced in June and followed separate grants to the PCC of £4.571m to pay for the Force’s specialist gun, gang and knife team, Boson, allowing it to be doubled with a permanent unit in the north as well as the south of the county, and £1.38m for extra patrols, intelligence data-gathering and community projects.
T/Deputy Chief Constable Jackie Sebire, who is also the National Police Chiefs’ Council portfolio lead for serious violence, said: “The VERU will allow us to work much more closely with partners in a ‘public health’ approach to preventing gun and knife crime. I have said, time and time again, that this is not purely a police problem and that a joined up approach to address the root causes of serious violence is the only way to tackle this problem.
“It is fantastic that the additional funding has now been confirmed, which means we can drive forward with our plans for a Bedfordshire-wide approach to reducing violence. Every penny will make a difference, and we now have the incredibly important job of turning our plans into reality.”
Late last year, the Home Office agreed to award a £4.571m Special Grant to the PCC to cover the unprecedented costs of Bedfordshire Police’s Boson team in fighting gang violence and weapon supply over three years, including in 2018-19. Earlier this summer, the former Policing and Fire Minister, Nick Hurd, confirmed in writing to the Commissioner that the Home Office will pay for the cost of the Boson unit in the next financial year too, after she supplied details of the results of its investment.
“I was able to prove to the Home Office team that their money had been very wisely invested in Bedfordshire and produced real results, as the Boson units in the north and south of Bedfordshire had chalked up 148 years in prison terms in a year. But it's a truism that you can’t just arrest your way out of serious youth violence. There’s a much wider piece of work around winning hearts and minds through education, driving home the health messages around the dangers and working with local authorities and communities themselves to better safeguard children and intervene earlier to protect them when they are vulnerable to being lured into gangs and knife carrying,” said Commissioner Holloway.
“I’m delighted that the money for the VERU has now been rubber stamped, after the Home Office reviewed a detailed description of our bid, and it will allow this countywide, joined-up approach, which is the only way to tackle the escalation of violence that we've seen. While the Force will, of course, continue the hugely impressive work of its Boson unit to arrest and prosecute those involved in gun, gang and knife crime, the VERU will give us the opportunity to be much more proactive in preventing vulnerable young people being exploited and drawn into violence in the first place.
“It also demonstrates, yet again, that the Home Office accepts that Bedfordshire Police is not sufficiently well funded through its core Government grant to be able to respond to all the serious and complex crime challenges it faces.
“Our T/DCC, Jackie Sebire, has shown great leadership in helping us secure this funding and I’m committed to helping her ensure that it is put to good use in making Bedfordshire a safer place for us all."
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has involved members of the worst hit communities to advise it and the Force on projects which are felt likely to be most beneficial in preventing gang and knife crime. These include presentations in schools by emergency medicine specialist, David Kirby, from the Luton and Dunstable University Hospital and playing pupils the hard-hitting '24 Hours in Police Custody’ episode ‘Knifed’ showing a machete fight and double stabbing in The Mall, Luton, and the murder of 18-year-old Azaan ‘AJ' Kaleem in a knife attack in the town.
The VERU bid will span the entire county and involve Bedford Borough Council, Luton Council and Central Bedfordshire Council.
The confirmation of the funding has been welcomed by all three local authorities in Bedfordshire.
Chief Executive of Luton Council, Robin Porter said: "This funding is excellent news for Bedfordshire.
"It will ensure the vital work to tackle crime both in Luton and across the county can continue, and can make a real difference.
"Tackling serious violence needs a partnership approach and as a local authority we have a vital role to play.
"Eradicating poverty and improving the life chances of our residents is a key priority for Luton Council.
"We want to understand the root causes of violence and collaborate on prevention, early intervention and support to make lasting change which will ultimately save lives.
"If we can work together with our partners to drive vulnerable people away from poverty, we can make a real and long-lasting difference to them, their families and our communities."
Cllr Colleen Atkins, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety at Bedford Borough Council, said: “We are committed to working in partnership with police and key partners and this funding allocation will go some way to helping Bedfordshire Police in ongoing efforts to tackle the serious issue of violent crime."
Councillor Ian Dalgarno, Central Bedfordshire Council’s Executive Member for Community Services, said: “This is great news, we welcome this funding and hope it will help make a real difference to our communities.”
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has warmly welcomed her newly appointed Chief Constable, Garry Forsyth, into his new role this week.
Commissioner Holloway said “I’m absolutely delighted to be working even more closely with my new Chief Constable, Garry Forsyth.
“People should be reassured that we haven’t let the ball drop for a moment: we’ve been in touch with the new Prime Minister, Home Secretary and Policing Minister to make Bedfordshire Police’s bid as early as possible for a fair share of the new uplift of 20,000 officers that’s been promised nationally. Our voices are being heard as one concerning the need for Policing to have two entry routes for new Constables moving forward - both a degree programme, which the College of Policing is insisting on, and a non-degree route - not least as we cannot allow this to become a bottle neck, holding up the uplift in our front line.”
Chief Constable Garry Forsyth added “I am honoured to have the opportunity to build on the legacy of my predecessor Jon Boutcher and the Commissioner Kathryn Holloway. Having been part of the senior leadership of the force over the last two years I am very much looking forward to evolving the force to an even stronger position working with our excellent staff, communities and partners.
“Unsurprisingly at the top of my priorities will be continuing to ensure that we have the right level of funding for Bedfordshire so we can provide the services the public want and deserve, and that our officers and staff want to deliver.
“While it will not deliver all of the resource we know we need, I am encouraged by recent announcements of investment, but there will be lots of work to be done with many partners if the effect of this investment is to be properly felt by the public. We will need the infrastructure development and support of other public sector agencies and the whole criminal justice system in order to make the difference that I know the public want to see, but after spending the last nine years as a chief officer making savings from police budgets the difficulties of significantly growing our workforce are finally a nice problem to have.
“I have seen at first hand the benefits that can be achieved with the strong support of a determined PCC and this has been key to securing additional funding for the force and transforming how the force is perceived across the country. I very much look forward to continuing in this vein and I am excited at the start of my tenure for the future of our force and the county of Bedfordshire,” said the Chief Constable.
Both the PCC and Chief Constable Forsyth have been quick to launch their new working partnership side by side at various events this week.
"We have been out and about together, most recently last Sunday (28 July), at the annual Care of Police Survivors (COPS) Memorial Day for those who have lost their lives in police service. I don’t know who was more pleased that we didn’t have to weather the storms on a bicycle as one of Bedfordshire Police’s fantastic 18 commemorative cyclists who rode as part of the Unity Tour, which opens this event, all the way from our county to the National Memorial Arboretum in Burton on Trent!” said Commissioner Holloway.
“Garry and I get on incredibly well; we’ve proved that we are a strong working partnership over the past two years, while Garry has been the Deputy Chief Constable, and I’m completely certain that he is the right person in the right job to take Bedfordshire Police into an ever brighter future in the service of the public in this county.”
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has warmly welcomed the announcement by the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and Home Secretary, Priti Patel, that 20,000 new police posts are to be created, saying that her uniquely exposed and under-resourced police force could be transformed by the promised uplift.
Commissioner Holloway provided evidence to the Home Office in a Demand and Funding Analysis Report in October 2017, supplying the proof that Bedfordshire Police needed a further 300 Police Constables and 80 detectives to begin to reach the level of forces facing similar challenges, even at the general resource levels depleted since 2010.
In the interim, she has been able to use her budget to create a further 60 Police Constable posts, assisted by a combination of savings – through examining every officer, member of staff and expenditure across the Force – and as the result of a Special Grant of £4.571m from Government last December due to the unprecedented rise in demand from Serious Youth Violence; gang, gun and knife crime issues. The Commissioner now maintains that, on top of the 240 remaining shortfall of Police Constables and 80 detectives that were required in 2017, demand proves that a further 200 Police Constables would be needed to allow Bedfordshire Police to deliver crime prevention, as Boris Johnson and his team require, as well as responding to crime.
“This uplift is the largest single increase in Police Constables that has been promised at one time in policing history and, of course, it’s hugely welcome as it shows that law and order is now topping the agenda of the new Government. Where Bedfordshire Police is concerned, it quite simply has the potential to transform police service to the public, depending of course on the number of Police Constables which is allocated to us.
“It’s quite clear that the new Home Secretary, Priti Patel, and Policing Minister, Kit Malthouse, want this uplift to allow Policing as a whole to not only deal with crime reactively but to get ahead of the curve and deal with it proactively, through meaningful crime prevention work. To do that you have to have the numbers; that’s a matter of common sense.
“Bedfordshire Police is now recognised as genuinely unique by the Home Office - and the Special Grant for last year, which has been promised to me again in writing for this year - is absolute proof that the message, and evidence, have landed there to prove that the Force does not currently have the resources to respond to all the crime we have here; which includes the third highest terror risk in the country, county lines drugs and weapons dealing from our county to London - not simply into it from the capital - plus the gang and knife issues that come with that crime type and all the crime challenges that are associated with an international airport - in Luton – and the main road and rail network which passes through Bedfordshire.
“That is why I will be making a case to the new National Policing Board that, in order to get upstream of such crime and prevent it in the first place, we need a further 200 officers on top of the 240 and 80 detectives which we have already proved we need. That is what would genuinely transform police service in this county,” said PCC Holloway.
She also discounted the suggestions in national headlines that a lack of lockers would prevent the uplift from being able to be delivered and addressed other logistical challenges, including training facilities, supervisors and station space.
“I would prefer by far, as would my Chief Constable, to be dealing with the challenges of expanding a police force quickly, rather than those involved in contracting it; so, where all what Boris would call “gloomsters” are concerned, I would like to confirm that I will pay for lockers to get desperately needed officers into this county.
“Bedfordshire delivers its training with two neighbouring forces - Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire - which means that we have three times the capacity to make changes to recruitment and, although nobody is saying this will not be a challenge, my message to the Prime Minister’s team and to the new Home Secretary and Policing Minister is this: if you let us have the officers we need, I will make sure that we make it work and work quickly,” said Commissioner Holloway.
She pointed to one aspect of national police planning which she suggests is a genuine blocker across the country, however; the plan of the College of Policing to insist that all police officers have a degree and that new PCs will have to spend considerably more time in the classroom than under the current training system, over a three year period, to qualify for one, from 2021.
“We simply can’t allow this programme – whatever your viewpoint on whether it is even necessary for every single officer to have a degree – to de-rail the greatest uplift in police numbers ever to re-fill the void which has opened up since 2010.
“This so called Policing Educational Qualifications Framework – PEQF – has to be abandoned now as the sole route into the service for new PCs from 2021. Just putting it back by another year, which is one proposal, won’t be good enough. We need both a degree programme and a non-degree training route.
“My public and our officers and staff need new colleagues as soon as is conceivably possible: they need officers with a sense of vocation more than a single qualification and I am already in touch with the Prime Minister’s team to make sure that they receive them. I also look forward to discussing this with the new Policing Minister, Kit Malthouse, when he visits Bedfordshire, which is one of the first arrangements made by his office since taking up the job,” she said.
Kit Malthouse is now to visit Bedfordshire Police in September.