About 50 residents turned out on a bitter cold evening this week to hear first hand from Police and Crime Commissioner Olly Martins on the state of Policing in Bedfordshire.
Mr Martins' talk was illustrated with slides showing statistics that show that Bedfordshire is grossly under-funded for the type and quantity of crime it has to contend with compared with other forces. He told the meeting that Bedfordshire had a high serious crime mix, problems with extremism of the left and the right, faced issues with organised crime groups, the local force had to police the fifth busiest airport in the country, and that the county had easy access routes to the capital for criminals.
"On the plus side, we have had 600 fewer victims of burglary in the last year, and we are the third lowest on non-staff costs. By 2019/20 50% of the police budget will be on tri-working with our police forces in Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire, making £10 million in savings."
"Our officers have body worn cameras. This means that they are less likely to be challenged on what happened, guilty people tend to admit their guilt more freely, and less time needs to be spent by our officers in the courts." He went on to talk about smart phones, tagging, the experimental use of flying drones to assist in chases, and identification.
Mr Martins said the Chief Constable would like another 300 officers for Bedfordshire to help him cover the county properly. "At the moment, " he said, "a fair analogy of the situation would be that the force are trying to cover a double bed with a single duvet. The national average was 232 officers per 100,000 people, the Metropolitan Force had 388, whereas Bedfordshire had just 169."
Chief Inspector Quinn next addressed the meeting, and encouraged people to report in details, particularly of nuisance off-road bikes. He cited a case where officers had knocked on doors at 3am and made arrests, and found stolen bikes at that address, and implied that this knock-and-seize approach would continue. He said a new community policing unit was being set up to tackle a variety of nuisances in the community. They would take a holistic approach, rather than taking on specific single issues.
A public question and answer session followed, before the meeting concluded at 9pm.
Nuiance off-road bikesResidents can email email@example.com with information.
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"The Government must ensure that Bedfordshire Police is adequately funded". https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/110333