Commissioner Holloway was joined by Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Mike Colbourne to announce the team consisting of 5 new Police Constables, 5 Police and Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and 5 Anti-Social Behaviour PCSOs and confirmed this is a brand new initiative for Houghton Regis.
“The number one priority in my Police and Crime Plan is more visible local policing and I’ve supported the Force in rolling this out through new Community Hub teams of officers in Leighton Buzzard, Luton, Bedford, Biggleswade and Dunstable so far. It’s now Houghton Regis’ turn which is very good news indeed for the town. This team is in addition to the usual 999 response officers and will take officers and PCSOs deployed in Houghton Regis from zero to 15,” the Commissioner told a packed audience at the Community Centre in Bedford Square.
DCC Colbourne confirmed that Bedfordshire Police had removed its Community Policing capacity to meet budget cuts four years ago. “But now we’re bringing it back and re-populating policing in the community in towns like Houghton Regis and, as we move ahead, we intend to build community policing throughout the county through on-going recruitment in 2017 and beyond,” he said.
The audience also heard from Insp. Annita Clarke who explained the work done since October, working with Central Bedfordshire Council and other partners in the town. She said the project she runs is targeting anti-social behaviour in Houghton Regis, especially in the Bedford Square area.
“We’re working together with the council and partners like Groundworks, the fantastic youth group here, to try to tackle the problems around Bedford Square together. We have had officers here talking to groups of youths and disbanding them and stopping problems with fireworks. Some have been “base jumping” on the canopies above the shops which, as a mother, frightens me to death so we’re working with the property owner to see if we can design a way to stop this. We’ve really been getting results since we started targeting this area at the beginning of October.”
Insp. Clarke reported that since the project began, there had been a reduction in the total number of ASB incidents in the Bedford Square area. There were 29 incidents reported to the Police in October, this number fell to 18 incidents in November and 5 reported incidents so far in December.
There was also a reduction to the number of General ASB incidents reported over the three month period. In October there were 22 which again dropped to 9 in November and 4 reported incidents so far in December.
The audience also heard from Sgt. Louise Bates who described the Force’s Op Meteor initiative to target nuisance moped and quad bikers and motorcycles. Sgt. Bates described a recent Action Day which resulted in the seizure of £10,000 in cash, two handguns and “a huge quantity of drugs.” Some 35 bikes were also crushed.
The audience also heard a presentation from Wayne Humberstone, head of the Force Control Room explaining when 101 number should be used and when 999 is the best option.
“A lot of people still don’t know about 101, which was a national initiative, not one introduced by Bedfordshire Police. Any life-threatening matter or any serious crime in progress, such as discovering your house has been burgled, the door’s open and there’s noise which suggests someone could still be inside is a case for 999. For any other crime it’s 101,” he explained.
Martin Darlow, CEO of Bedfordshire Police Partnership Trust’s Bobby Van scheme also explained the security surveys and home security improvements such as door chains and window locks which can be provided entirely free of charge to elderly and vulnerable people.