Bedfordshire Police: Watchdog Says, “Good at keeping people safe”

Bedfordshire Police has been given an overall grade of ‘Good’ for police Effectiveness, Efficiency and Legitimacy by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

The HMICFRS watchdog has acknowledged the pace of improvement and quality of delivery in a force which it had previously graded as ‘Inadequate’ in 2016 (the only force in England and Wales to receive this grade at that time) and as ‘Requires Improvement’ in 2017.

A delighted Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway said, "I never accepted that the ‘Inadequate’ grade, which focused on a lack of Community Policing, in particular, was a fair assessment, saying at the time that we were 'a half-built house’ as my former Chief Constable, Jon Boutcher, was genuinely delivering on my Police and Crime Plan and Bedfordshire Police was already in the process of returning Neighbourhood Policing in Community Hubs right across the county at the time,” said Commissioner Holloway.

“Now, Bedfordshire Police can supply proof to the watchdog of what those community teams have achieved in terms of problem-solving to address the type of lower-level crime issues. As just one isolated example, anti-social behaviour in Houghton Regis has dropped by 49 per cent in the last year and you don’t get that sort of progress in a force which is not stepping up to the plate when it comes to delivery.

Bedfordshire Police also has a particular strength identifying the drugs market, serious organised crime and gang issues, sharing findings with partners and working to tackle them together. This has been so exemplary that other forces now come to learn from us. Government funding has been drawn in as an investment.  We have a Special Grant to pay for our specialist Boson unit to respond to gang, gun and knife crime. And we now have a Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit, which is funding police to work with other agencies such as health, local councils and communities to address the causes at grassroots.”

HMICFRS Inspectors carried out its latest ‘PEEL' assessment in July last year – which covers all of Effectiveness, Efficiency and Legitimacy in a new integrated inspection and which grades all 43 forces in England and Wales.
View the HMICFRS Report in Full

Chief Constable Garry Forsyth said, “This is fabulous news and is testament to all of the hard work of our officers and staff. The report describes Bedfordshire Police as ‘an ambitious force with a positive culture’ and I’m delighted that it particularly praised our work around identifying and helping vulnerable people – recognising our dedication to protecting people and keeping them safe.

“While we disagreed with previous gradings, we have worked tirelessly, with the support of HMICFRS, to address their areas of concern and ensure we were as efficient and effective as possible.

“My predecessor Jon Boutcher should take a huge amount of credit for leading the Force during this time – and I would also like to thank our communities and partners for their ongoing support.

The only area of the report that inspectors deemed to ‘Require Improvement’ was future planning.

Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway said: “The fact that inspectors found the future planning aspect to be an area to be addressed is entirely understandable given the current police funding formula which leaves Bedfordshire Police still under-resourced to deal with the complex crime it faces on a daily basis. In fact, the report makes it abundantly clear that Bedfordshire Police requires an enhanced funding settlement, despite the 36 officers it will receive as part of the national uplift of 20,000 in 2020/21.

“The sheer fact that I've had to apply for Special Grant Funding two years running, simply to deal with Bedfordshire’s gang, gun and knife crime, shows the enormity of our financial challenges. Thankfully, I am expecting news of a second Special Grant any day now.

"Until the final rebalancing of national police funding, which we’ve been promised, is secured, full future planning in such an uncertain financial climate is nigh on impossible” said Commissioner Holloway.

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