POLICE AND CRIME COMMISSIONER FOR BEDFORDSHIRE
Title and Reference – PCC/D/097
Subject: Allocation of Funds to Bedfordshire Police to allocate onwards to Bedfordshire Police Community Watch Schemes and each local Neighbourhood Watch Scheme (Bedford, Central and Luton)
Report of: Police and Crime Commissioner
It is proposed that the Bedfordshire Police Community Watch Schemes and the Neighbourhood Watch schemes continue to be funded for 2023/24. The OPCC fund the Neighbourhood Watch Schemes in each authority area and a Bedfordshire Police Community Scheme through the Community Safety Fund. These schemes are in place to build relationships with the public and encourage people to take an active interest in their local area, aligning to Sir Robert Peels 7th principle, through service delivery from the Community Watch Schemes.
The 7th founding principle established by Sir Robert Peel is “to maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence”. It is within the gift of the Police and Crime Commissioner to allocate funding in a way that encourages community-based policing. In Bedfordshire, an aspect of this has already been implemented with the Neighbourhood Watch Schemes. The Police and Crime Commissioner has recognised the need to bridge the gap between community policing and members of the public. Presently in Bedfordshire, a Neighbourhood Watch operates in each local authority area and there is a Bedfordshire Police Community Watch Scheme led by a Neighbourhood Policing police staff member, coordinating street watch, speed watch, horse watch and dog watch. In September, Juliet Wright, the coordinator of Bedfordshire Police Community Schemes advised that 507 hours of patrols were completed in September 2022, with 113 hours completed by Dog and Horse Watch volunteers.
Speed Watch volunteers held 119 sessions of Speed Watch in September, with 444 speed awareness letters distributed by Bedford Borough Council as a result. In total over 118 incidents have been reported to the Bedfordshire Police Community Scheme in one quarter in 2022/2023, improving public confidence through increased police presence, alongside tangible provisions such as the maintenance of speed devices. Building on community safety, the Police and Crime Commissioner recognises that anti-social behaviour (ASB) is one of the most reported crimes within Bedfordshire.
Police and Crime Plan
In the Police and Crime plan under priority 1.1 – Community Engagement; Problem Solving and Days of Action the commissioner commits to continuing to invest in Neighbourhood and Watch Schemes, as partners in community safety.
A change is proposed from a previous decision to award the Community Watch Scheme all funds and for the coordinator to manage proposals due to a proposal from Bedfordshire Police to manage the funds in alignment with policing demand and priorities.
It is proposed that the full budget of £20,000 for Community Watch Schemes and Neighbourhood watch schemes be allocated to Bedfordshire Police and then managed by the Supt for Local Policing via a meeting held between the three Chief Inspectors (one from each local authority area) to then allocate funding onwards to the Community Watch Scheme and Bedfordshire, Luton, and Bedford Borough Neighbourhood watch schemes. Bedfordshire Police Chief Inspectors would allocate funding and task engagement/ activity with each of the Community Watch Schemes and Neighbourhood watch schemes to respond to priorities that are highlighted through their quarterly meeting, this would ensure that funding and activity are evidence based, demand focused and relevant to the Police and Crime Plan and Policing priorities.
The OPCC would continue to have oversight of and approve funding allocations with the Chief Inspectors reporting to the OPCC quarterly to report their meeting discussions, rationale and decision making and funding allocation for the OPCC to review. It is expected that the Chief Inspectors will seek to allocate funding across all Community Watch Schemes and Neighbourhood Watch Schemes however there is an understanding that demand may cause fluctuations.
To note decision
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner
I hereby approve the recommendations above.