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Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Panel have praised the new Commissioner Kathryn Holloway for her efforts to keep them and the public in the picture about widespread changes to police stations in the county, when meeting at Chicksands on Monday (September 26).

One of the Commissioner’s first actions, after taking up her role on May 12, was to ask the Police and Crime Panel of councillors from Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire and Luton Borough councils plus independent members to review Bedfordshire Police’s plans for its police stations and other buildings.

“It’s a fast-changing picture and it’s hugely important to me that both the public and the committee who hold me to account know what plans Bedfordshire Police and I have for the buildings I technically own,” said the Commissioner.

Since coming into the role, Commissioner Holloway has agreed the contract for the sale of Ampthill police station along with the sale in principle of the old Greyfriars station in Bedford. Leighton Buzzard Police Station is to be sold to Central Bedfordshire Council and police are to share the town’s fire station. Sandy police station will be used as an Occupational Health base by Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire Police. Dunstable will be used as a base for a Community Hub. Riseley station will remain for the time being but a future base is being explored sharing Harrold Fire Station (and a plan is being drawn up to share Ampthill fire station in the near future) and the Commissioner will announce plans for a policing presence in Flitwick’s unused police station next week. She is also exploring the use of a police property as a “home from home” interview base for child and teenage victims of sexual abuse.

In Luton, the custody suite is being entirely revamped and modernised and potential is being explored for both a multi-agency team, including local authority partners, and British Transport Police to share the main police station and the upper floors are to be redecorated.

The Police and Crime Panel reported: “Feedback from the previous PCC on Estates Strategy had been limited and sporadic and the recent briefings have shown that some work has been undertaken but not been fully reported back. It is an excellent indication of the new PCC’s willingness to work with the Police and Crime Panel that she has immediately requested the Panel’s involvement in pre-scrutinising her developing strategy.”

The Panel also approved of the Commissioner’s policy of visiting different towns throughout the county each month to announce plans for the future of its station and community policing teams and to discuss local crime concerns. “It is pleasing to see the work that has been carried out to date regarding the public engagement. It  is imperative that all other local changes have a similar announcement and engagement plan put in place in order to publicise the changes and maintain public confidence.”

“The local press have given me the most fantastic support in letting the public know where and when Bedfordshire Police and I will be coming to town and the new staff and changes which we are putting in place together. It’s really important to me to let as many people as possible know what the future of policing looks like in their neighbourhood,” said the Commissioner whose next public meeting will be in Dunstable’s Town Council building, Grove House, 76 High Street, Dunstable on November 8th when she will make a similar announcement to upgrade local policing alongside a top tier team from Bedfordshire Police.