Bedfordshire’s thin blue line is too thin says crime commissioner

PCC Kathryn Holloway and her crime plan PNL-160621-164657001
PCC Kathryn Holloway and her crime plan PNL-160621-164657001

Crime across Bedfordshire is up 5% in the year up to March 2017 according to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics.

Nationally the rise is 10%

The county’s Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway said it was “common sense” that the national trend in rising robbery, burglary and violent crime is down to a lack of neighbourhood policing.

But she also said increases in certain crime types reflect a growing confidence in reporting them to the police.

“Ten years ago robberies and burglaries in Bedfordshire were at a higher level than today but I’m not going to duck the fact that here, as across the country as a whole, these volume crimes are starting to go up again. You cannot strip neighbourhood policing out of a county like ours - as happened four years ago - and not face the consequences down the line. That’s precisely why the Chief Constable and I are trying to wring every penny out of our budget and increase the frontline by almost 10% by April next year.

“It’s also absolutely true to say that ten years ago public confidence to report crimes like hate crime and, especially, sexual crimes like rape and historic child sex abuse meant we had far more hidden victims. It’s generally accepted in modern policing, in 2017, that if your recording of crimes like these is going up, the public have a higher level of trust in you so this study is absolutely genuinely a double-edged sword.”.

“Only funds to give me more neighbourhood police to prevent crime will work. I cannot wave a wand to produce more police without the money to pay for them even though I’m incredibly proud to have recruited 96 new officers over the last financial year and 100 more this year,” she said.

She said crime is changing and the police are having to adapt, both nationally and locally, to deal with new and emerging forms of offending.

“Ten years ago nobody would have forecast the need for Bedfordshire Police to spend more than £1m on a new cyber-crime unit as the Force did this year, because we are all more likely to be a victim of online crime than any other type. We also have brand new crimes now like revenge pornography, where former partners use sexual images to blackmail and cause great distress,” she said.

The Commissioner pointed to the reorganisation of Bedfordshire Police’s detectives into specialist units as proof that the Force is responding to changing crime demand but said she would not pretend that this alone would halt a rise in crime.

“In the first six months since the Force created Operation Emerald - the team dealing with rape, serious sexual assault, child sex abuse and domestic violence, it produced more charges than in the previous six years. The number of repeat domestic abuse cases also fell by 192.

“Bedfordshire Police is aiming for similar success with its other specialist units like Operation Boson which focuses on gang, gun and knife crime but there is only so much we can do in the face of overwhelming demand with around 1,000 officers for a population of 644,000.”

The figures have been published as Home Office data indicates the number of police officers is at its lowest since 1985.

In the year to March 2017 there were 42,765 reported crimes, including 10,273 for violence against a person, six homicides, 927 sex offences, 720 robberies, 21,436 thefts and 3,104 domestic burglaries.