Guest post from Olly Martins, Police & Crime Commissioner for Bedfordshire
Posted on May 16, 2013
This year the budget for Bedfordshire Police is £102.8million. That sounds like a lot of money until you remember that budget will have been reduced by £19million by 2015 due to the government's 20% cut to the police grant, a further £24million a year is lost to the Force because Whitehall doesn't give us what their own funding formula says we need, and the amount we pay locally for policing through the council tax is well below the national average. So Bedfordshire Police is a rurally funded force that faces some distinctly metropolitan challenges.
Bedfordshire Police staff and officers have therefore performed remarkably well reducing recorded crime across the county by 15% in the last year (1899 fewer across Central Bedfordshire as a whole) at the same time as going through significant re-organisation and a reduction in the number of police officers due to the budget cuts.
The government will unveil a new spending review shortly, which is expected to herald yet further police cuts. I am opposed to such cuts but my role is to deal with the world as I find it rather than as I would wish it to be.
So the challenge for the future for Bedfordshire Police, and indeed for all of us, is how do we keep our communities safe at a time when the budget is still be shrinking?
The answer is that we need to forge a closer and stronger partnership between our local communities and their police and all recognise the police cannot and never have been able to fight crime on their own. Wherever we live in the county we all have a duty to support the police if we want our communities to be safe, whether this means passing on information about criminal activity, being prepared to support the local Neighbourhood Watch, Street Watch and Speed Watch scheme or, for the most committed, volunteering as a Special Constable so that each community has a visible policing presence.
There must be a genuine partnership, so Bedfordshire Police will work hard to value the support communities and volunteers give. Whereas in the past such close partnership has always been desirable, in the future it is clear that it will be absolutely essential, which is why this is such a priority for me as your Police and Crime Commissioner.
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.