Bedfordshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, held the first Community Hub Thank You Awards to recognise members of the public and officers involved in exceptional work to solve problems in towns and villages.
The special event was held at Woburn Abbey on Thursday, September 26, and it gave the Police and Crime Commissioner the chance to 'spread the word' about Community Policing.
The event was attended by 140 guests including officers from the eight Community Hubs based in towns across Bedfordshire, in Leighton Buzzard, Dunstable, Biggleswade - covering the North Bedfordshire towns and villages, Ampthill, Bedford and Luton, which has Hubs based at Luton Police Station, Futures House in Marsh Farm and one at the Airport, plus members of the rural crime team Op Sentinel Rural, who work out of both Dunstable and Riseley, at either end of the county.
The ceremony recognised both individual officers for successful problem solving operations and members of the public, nominated by each Hub team themselves and by rural crime officers.
Kathryn Holloway said: “This was a fantastic opportunity to spread the word about what Bedfordshire Police’s Community Hub officers have been up to over the past year to solve problems and help communities in all our major towns and the villages and also to say a huge ‘thankyou’ to those members of the public who have really got involved to help their local teams to solve problems.
“Those members of the public who received awards told me they were over-whelmed that the officers themselves had singled them out and it was also absolutely right that those officers who had presided over exceptionally successful problem solving were recognised."
The problem-solving police operations presented to the audience included an overall winner, Op Yellow, designed to drive down drugs and other saleable goods being thrown into the grounds of Bedford Prison and other examples included a community wide effort to reduce Anti Social Behaviour in Shefford - whose Mayor, Paul Mackin, received the award from the Biggleswade Hub for his outstanding help to the local police team as well as work to end drug dealing and intimidation of residents at Ruthin Close, Luton which turned around the neighbourhood, according to residents.
The Commissioner was inspired to hold the event, which the Force now plans to stage annually, by the yearly Community Cohesion Awards.
She said: “I have really taken on board how important the annual Community Cohesion Thankyou Awards have been in building strong bonds of trust and confidence in local policing in our communities in Luton and Bedford, primarily, and across our diverse neighbourhoods where trust in police has not been strong, historically.
"It’s incredibly important to me for our smaller towns and villages to enjoy exactly the same relationship with Bedfordshire Police and, now they have dedicated local Community teams, this was the perfect event to start to build this."
The event was provided at reasonable cost, thanks to the generosity of the Duke and Duchess of Bedford.
Commissioner Holloway said: “I'm so grateful to the Duke and Duchess for allowing us to use the Sculpture Gallery, its magnificent gardens, conservatory and reception rooms free of charge and they also were kind enough to provide welcome drinks for all who attended.
"This meant that the very first Community Hub Thankyou Awards got off to a quite superb start in a wonderful setting where officers and members of the public alike told me how delighted they were to have been invited."
The event was also addressed by Bedfordshire Police’s Chief Constable, Garry Forsyth. He said: “I was delighted to part of this event to celebrate the fantastic work of our officers, staff, community partners and members of the public.
"I often hark back to Sir Robert Peel’s principle that the police are the public and the public are the police, and that has shown at the Community Hub Awards ceremony.
“I would like to thank all of you for the continued support you provide to our communities and to our partners and public, for helping to keep our communities safe and reducing crime.”
Representatives of each of the Hubs and the rural crime team presented a resume of the work of which they were most proud over the year and described their approach to solving local problems, before going on to nominate the work of a key partner.
The audience were also addressed by international Community Policing expert Sylvia Chennery who regularly judges neighbourhood policing competitions. “I can honestly say that some of the examples we’ve heard about here tonight are among the very best that I have heard about from any police force, anywhere."
The following awards were given out on the night:
Community Impact Award:
Operation Yellow – Sgt Ian Leeson, PC Emily Keech, John McKinney (Bedford Borough Council). Graeme Vann (Security HMP Bedford) PJ Butler (HMP Bedford Governor)
OP Leithan - Sgt Rachael Welch, PCSO Ann Jeeves, PC Sarah Cluff, Paul Mackin (Shefford Town Council), Alan May (Central ASB Officer)
OP Loc (Ruthin Close, Luton) - Sgt Richard Cunningham, PC Michael Trinder, Laura Chalmers (Luton Borough Council ASB Case Manager) PC James Norman
VARAC - Superintendent Jacqueline Whittred & Shelia Forder
Mental Health Street Triage – PC James Biggs, Rachel Martin (East of England Ambulance), Sarah Clarke (ELFT)
Partners in Problem Solving:
Tara Lynch & Laura Chalmers (Luton Borough Council ASB Case Managers)
Sarah Keena (BPHA Housing Officer)
OP Highgate – PC Sharon Cummings, PCSO Daniel James, Christina Rowe (Bedford BID), Andy Cooper (Environmental Health), Sarah Stevens (Bedford Borough Council)
PCSO Spyridon Apostolidis
Innovation in Engagement:
PCSO 2813 Rachel Carne
PC Emma Underwood & PCSO Claire Hughes
Problem Solver of the Year:
PC Kate Rowley
The following community members were nominated by each hub for their work in their respective communities and were also presented with a certificate:
Luton Airport – Tamara Cato
Rural Crime Hub – Martin Towler
Dunstable – Sharon Warboys
Houghton Regis – Sharon Knott
Luton – Peter Appleyard
Leighton Buzzard – Stephen Swaine
North Urban – Beccy Campbell-Grieve
North Rural – Paul Mackin