Bedfordshire Police: Making Contact: December 2011
Posted on December 20, 2011
Welcome to the last edition for 2011 of Making Contact, the newsletter which keeps you up-to-date with policing in Bedfordshire. The pace of change over the past twelve months has been breathtaking at times with more promised for the future.
Issue 16 - December 2011
We started 2011 with a new Chief Constable, whose leadership is ensuring performance improvements where it matters most. We have seen Bedfordshire Police successfully tackling crime on both a large and smaller scale. We have been assessed as delivering value for money in challenging financial times, and we have been judged to be well prepared to meet the savings target. However, regretfully, to achieve the necessary savings we have been faced with some difficult decisions which have seen our organisations losing valued members of staff.
We have seen Parliament agree to abolish Police Authorities and replace them with directly elected Police and Crime Commissioners and we are now working flat out with our partners to ensure that this is a success. We have seen the way the Force operates undergo a complete transformation and we have witnessed the introduction of the single non-emergency number, 101.
The news of our demise next November does not appear to herald a let up in the pressure of work. We continue to deliver 'business as usual' in addition to the transition programme.
In the coming months we will set our last and possibly most difficult budget. We will publish our Strategic Policing Plan and we will keep you informed of the progress we are making regarding transition.
Thank you for reading our publication. The feedback has been very positive and we are pleased to see our circulation growing by request! Hopefully we will maintain this next year.
Meanwhile, may we wish you, your family and colleagues a peaceful Christmas holiday and a very Happy New Year
1. Performance Update
Thanks to a lot of hard work, and despite a great deal of change, recorded crime has fallen by 4.5% (equivalent to 1325 fewer victims). Burglary, one of the pivotal crimes for public confidence, has dropped by a massive 20% and robbery is down by 5%.
Detections (the proportion of crimes that are solved) on the other hand, are up - in all crime categories. This is an important element of the drive to see the force among the top 20 in England and Wales and we are there, or thereabouts, in most categories.
The Chief Constable believes that this improvement is thanks to a very clear focus on the Force's purpose - as stated in the Strategic Policing Plan – 'to fight crime and protect the public'. This has led to the introduction of a tough performance regime that is delivering results.
In addition the growth of local policing, as a result of restructuring the way operational policing is delivered, has been well received and has enabled officers to be moved into frontline jobs, which is where people tell us they want them.
The focus on those who commit the most crime is also working, with targeted activities on crime and the underlying causes, supported by operations to tackle drug related serious and organised crime, which have led to significant arrests throughout the year. Criminals have learned the hard way that crime doesn't necessarily pay when their assets are seized and their ill-gotten gains taken away, which is a deterrent and appropriate sanction on their criminal activities.
One of the areas the Authority and the Force are seeking to improve is victim satisfaction and an action plan is being developed. The key areas where we want to see a difference is keeping people informed of what is happening, particularly when someone has been arrested. We want to see the victims kept informed throughout the process from arrest, to charge, to court appearances and sentence or acquittal.
All of this good news does not mean we have become complacent. Funding remains the biggest challenge for the year ahead and we need to find significant savings while continuing to enable improvements in performance. While it will not be easy both the Chief Constable and the Authority are determined that this will be achieved.
2. Strategic Policing Plan 2011-2016 – Tell us what you think
To ensure that our partners and the public have the opportunity to comment on the draft of our Strategic Policing Plan for 2011-16, we have placed it on our website and we are urging people to visit the site, consider the plan and give us their views.
The document can be found here and your opinions will be taken into account as we set the budget and priorities for policing Bedfordshire in the future.
3. Have Your Say
The Authority is asking the public to help it make the difficult choices ahead in a budget survey available on-line or by hard copy on request.
The new survey will also invite residents to give their views on the organisational changes introduced this year to deliver better value for money in challenging funding times.
In addition to questions about policing, satisfaction and resources, the survey asks searching questions about the amount of money people are prepared to pay towards policing Bedfordshire, not just this year, but in the future.
Bedfordshire Police and Police Authority need to identify £6million of savings in 2012/13 to place them on-course to achieving their overall target, which amounts to a further £13m over the next three years. Almost a third of the Force's budget is achieved through council tax income - however the Government is encouraging local authorities to freeze council tax for the second year running, with the offer of a grant equivalent to a 3% increase in the police's portion of the council tax bill as a one-off compensatory offer. This freeze would see council tax remain at £144.77 per annum for an average Band D property.
If the Police Authority decides to freeze next year's council tax at the current rate this will have no impact on plans in 2012/13 but would lead to increasingly difficult decisions being required for 2013/14 and 2014/15 in order to balance the budget. A lost income of £1.9m from local taxpayers will see the budget shrink by 2%, with the potential loss of 90 frontline posts. The online survey is available on www.bedfordshirepoliceauthority.co.uk until 26 January 2012. Information generated through the survey will be fed back to the Police Authority before it discusses next year's budget, which will be set in February.
4. Police and Crime Commissioners
In September 2011 the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill received Royal Assent and became an Act. One of the key aspects is the replacement of Police Authorities in England and Wales with directly-elected Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs).
The introduction of PCCs is one of the most significant changes to affect policing in decades. The Government believes it will improve the democratic accountability of the police service and strengthen the relationship between the police and the public. The new governance structure will have little impact on the everyday policing services delivered by the Force and the Chief Constable will continue to retain independence for all operational policing decisions.
The elected PCC will ensure the force operates efficiently and effectively and meets the appropriate interests of stakeholders and the public. Functions will include holding the Chief Constable to account; ensuring the public, partners and stakeholders are consulted over policing issues; setting the budget for the force and publishing a Police and Crime Plan. The PCC is a full-time post and will receive a salary set by the Secretary of State. They will be required to employ a Chief Executive Officer and a Chief Finance Officer however all other staffing requirements will be at the discretion of the PCC.
The first elections for the new PCC are scheduled to take place on November 15 2012. The Police Authority will keep residents fully up-to-date with election arrangements over the coming months but are encouraging people to plan ahead to ensure they are registered to vote on Election Day. If you are not sure whether you are registered to vote or have changed your address details recently, contact your local Electoral Registration Office who will be able to assist.
The nominated Force Area Returning Officer is the Chief Executive of Luton Borough Council. PCCs will assume their legal responsibilities on Thursday, November 22 2012 - seven days after the election. Until this time, Bedfordshire Police Authority will continue all of its functions as normal.
6. Police and Crime Panel (PCP)
To ensure balance and democracy, Police and Crime Panels will be formed to hold the PCC to account on behalf of the public. PCPs will be the responsibility of the local authority within each force area and will perform a "check and balance" role to the directly-elected PCC. Membership of the PCPs will be made up of councillors from each local authority and two Independent Members but they can have no more than 20 members in total.
Responsibilities of the new PCP will include reviewing the draft Policing and Crime Plan, reviewing the Annual Report, reviewing the appointment of the Chief Constable and reviewing and scrutinising the decisions of the PCC. They will also play a wider role in community safety by working with Community Safety Partners to reduce crime and disorder.
Bedford Borough Council has agreed to be the host authority for the PCP in Bedfordshire.
7. Transition Board
A Transition Board has been in place for some months now, with membership from our local partners. Over the coming months, this newsletter will endeavour to keep partners, practitioners and the community informed of the changes to come.
If you have any questions about any of the articles in this newsletter, or indeed any other area of our responsibilities, then please get in touch.
For further information or to contact us
Bedfordshire Police Authority
Bridgebury House, Woburn Road, Kempston, Bedford, MK43 9AX.
Source: Bedfordshire Police Authority
Comment on This Article:
All HTML, except <i>, <b>, <u> will require your comment to be moderated before it is publicly displayed.
If you would like your own avatar displayed, read about comment avatars.