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Archived News - Bedfordshire

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service Warns of Fancy Dress Fire Risk

This article was published in May 2015. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Chief Fire Officer of Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, Paul Fuller, is warning parents about the fire risk to children from fancy dress costumes. "These costumes are not covered by current children's clothing regulations," he says, "and the safety standard for them can be as little as a 'keep away from fire' label. This is not good enough and is putting children's lives at risk."

To raise awareness of the risk to children from dressing up costumes CFO Fuller has taken part in BBC TV's Watchdog with a segment of the show dedicated to the issue broadcast at 8pm on Thursday 14 May. The programme will show just how quickly some children's costumes burn if touched by a naked flame like a candle.

CFO Fuller is a trustee of the Children's Burns Trust, a charity that has become concerned by inadequate regulation of children's fancy dress clothing whose popularity has grown in recent years, partly sparked by film tie-ins with animated films and blockbuster action films.

Paul Fuller continues: "People do not realise just how quickly a princess costume will catch fire and the fire spread. The design of costumes, with flowing robes, capes or petticoats means they could easily catch fire from a candle or flame and swiftly engulf a child in flames.

"At the moment fancy dress costumes are not necessarily fire proofed or fire retardant. They are classified as toys, not clothes. Fire safety for toys is based on the ability of children to drop a burning teddy bear or doll or to run away from a burning play tent or wigwam. It often amounts to no more than having a 'keep away from fire' label on the package but you can't drop a burning costume or run away from it.

"Burn injuries are difficult to treat and once a child's skin has been burned it does not regain its flexibility and grow as the child does. This means a young burns survivor may have to endure years of painful surgery as they grow and develop.

"We are not asking for new legislation. We want fancy dress costumes to be included in same safety standards as children's nightclothes. It is a simple classification change from toys to clothes and will help protect our children from this preventable risk. We also want manufacturers to understand the risk and bring their costumes up to the standard of children's nightclothes.

"This is not a matter of cost, more expensive costumes are not necessarily safer. Parents should be aware that costumes do not meet the same safety standards as clothes. They should treat them as a high risk particularly around the open flames that you might find at Halloween, a birthday party or an outdoor barbeque."

New Deputy Chief Constable Appointed

This article was published in May 2014. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Bedfordshire PoliceBedfordshire Police has appointed a new Deputy Chief Constable.

Chief Constable Colette Paul said: "I am delighted to announce the appointment of Assistant Chief Constable Jon Boutcher as the new Deputy Chief Constable of Bedfordshire. Jon is already serving as the ACC of our collaborated units, Joint Protective Services, so is familiar with our county and brings a wealth of experience from a range of operational portfolios. He will take over the post when the current DCC John Fletcher retires in July."

Commissioner Olly Martins added; "Jon is a welcome addition to the top team who demonstrated a clear committment to meeting the needs of victims and building a strong partnership with the public to help keep our county safe."

ACC Jon Boucther said: "I am delighted and feel very privileged to have been selected as the Deputy Chief Constable for Bedfordshire Police. I look forward to working with all of the staff and partner agencies who work so hard to keep everyone safe in the county. I would especially like to thank John Fletcher, the outgoing Deputy, for his outstanding work within the force."

Source: Ringmaster

Notice of European Parliamentary Election - 22 May 2014

This article was published in April 2014. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

European Parliamentary Election 22 May 2014
Notice of Election
Eastern Electoral Region


Notice is given that an election is to be held in the Eastern Electoral Region for seven members of the European Parliament.  If the election is contested the poll will be held on 22 May 2014 between 7am and 10pm.


Standing for election


Nomination papers may be obtained from the address below or from Delivery of all nomination papers and consents to nomination must be made in person to the address below and by the date shown.


Address to which to deliver nomination papers


Customer Services Centre, Civic Centre, Duke Street, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 1JE

Delivery allowed

Between 10am and 4pm on any working day from 10 April 2014 to 24 April 2014 (inclusive)


Deadline for the delivery of nomination papers


4pm on 24 April 2014



The deposit for each registered political party or individual candidate (£5,000) may be paid by cash or bankers draft (banks operating in the UK or Gibraltar only), by electronic payment into my account or by debit or credit card.


Applications for registration, postal and proxy voting


Applications to be included on the register of electors or for postal or proxy votes MUST reach the Electoral Registration Officer for the council area in which an elector resides (the list of addresses is available at by the dates below.


Application deadlines

Register to vote


6 May 2014

New postal vote (including proxies applying to vote by post)


5pm on 7 May 2014

To cancel or alter postal and proxy votes, or to change from postal to proxy voting


5pm on 7 May 2014

New proxy


5pm on 14 May 2014

Emergency proxy

  • on grounds of disability if the applicant becomes incapacitated after 5pm on 14 May 2014, or
  • if by reason of occupation, employment or service, or attendance at a training or educational course, the applicant cannot go to a polling station in person, and that commitment arises after 5pm on 14 May 2014


5pm on 22 May 2014


Dated: 9 April 2014
Steve Packham, Regional Returning Officer


Printed and published by
The Regional Returning Officer, Civic Centre, Duke Street, Chelmsford CM1 1JE

Countywide Car Parts Theft - Warning

This article was published in March 2014. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Bedfordshire PoliceDetectives undertaking a countywide investigation in to the theft of car parts are warning motorists to take extra care when they park their vehicles.

Operation King, a dedicated initiative to crackdown on those who steal vehicle parts from high performance vehicles, such as Astra, Corsa and Insignia VXRs, in the county has been running for a number of months. Dedicated officers have been working to arrest those people who trade in stolen parts with eight commercial and residential addresses being searched and five men being arrested so far.

Work is also being undertaken by the team to gain a better understanding of the market for these stolen car parts and police have recovered several tens of dozens of stolen parts during enforcement activity.

Detective Chief Inspector Ian Middleton, said: "Identification of recovered parts is on-going but we are very keen to have any relevant information from the public, either directly to the Force or through Crimestoppers to help us tackle this on-going problem. We are particularly interested to hear about any outlets where suspected stolen parts are being traded." 

He continued: "The public can also assist us by property marking their items using any of the commercially available property marking products, which may help us to identify stolen parts and to bring offenders to justice more rapidly. If your vehicle is fitted with an alarm than please make sure you use it whenever you park your vehicle, and if possible, park your car in a well lit area. The reduction of vehicle crime has been a long-standing priority for Bedfordshire Police and the loss and disruption caused to victims clearly illustrates why this type of crime is taken so seriously by us."

Anyone with information relating to this type of crime can contact Bedfordshire Police on 101, or text information to 07786 200011.

Alternatively contact the independent crime fighting charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Be Extra Vigilant When Using Bank Cards

This article was published in November 2013. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Bedfordshire PoliceBedfordshire Police is warning the public to be extra vigilant when using their bank cards after two elderly residents had their cards stolen from them when out shopping.

The first incident happened on Friday (Nov 15) when the 85 year old victim was at the Sainsburys Store in Bells Brook, Biggleswade.  The victim had noticed that someone was watching her pay for her shopping using her bank card. When she returned to her car a woman approached her and asked if she wanted help putting her shopping in to the back of her car. The victim agreed and a short time later a man approached and told the girl it was time to leave. On returning home the victim realised that her bank card was missing and when she contacted the bank she was told it had been used several times.

The second incident happened on Wednesday (Nov 20) when an 82 year old victim was approached by a woman as she was putting her shopping in to the back of her car in West Street, Leighton Buzzard. The woman, who is described as having an Eastern European appearance and spoke with an accent, asked the victim for change. The victim removed her purse from her bag to illustrate that she didn't have any change and the woman left.  However, shortly after the victim realised her bank card and credit card had been taken.

Gary Maxey, investigating, is keen to remind members of the public to take extra care when they are out shopping and to ensure they protect their pin numbers and payment cards.

He said: "I would warn anyone who is out shopping, especially over the busy festive period, to ensure they take extra precautions to ensure they are not being overlooked when using payment cards. Always cover the key pad when entering your pin number, and if anyone is standing too close to you, politely ask them to step away or alert the store security staff.

"Often people will use a number of tactics to distract and trick people in to revealing where they keep their cards and cash. Asking for change or saying that you've dropped something on the floor can be a ruse so please avoid getting your purse or wallet out in public."

Anyone with information relating to these crimes can contact Gary Maxey, in confidence, at Bedfordshire Police on 101, or text information to 07786 200011.

Alternatively, contact the independent crime fighting charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Source: Ringmaster

Guest post from Olly Martins, Police & Crime Commissioner for Bedfordshire

This article was published in May 2013. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

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.

Olly Martins, Police & Crime Commissioner for BedfordshireBedfordshire 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.

Crime Plummets Again in Bedfordshire

This article was published in April 2013. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Bedfordshire Police"Less crime means fewer victims" says Chief Constable Alf Hitchcock after Bedfordshire Police recorded some of the largest reductions in the country in the 12 month period to December 2012, particularly in key offences such as burglary and violent crime.

The dramatic fall in overall crime, 15% compared with a national average of 8%, follows the previous three months which also saw a huge reduction across the county.

"The figures published today continue to  show the force is achieving the aim of fighting crime and protecting the public ensuring residents of Bedfordshire are less likely to be a victim of crime than the national average," said Mr Hitchcock. "We are not complacent but the significant fall in crime is testimony to the great job the men and women of Bedfordshire Police are doing, day in day out, to fight crime and protect the public against a backdrop of real cuts to resources."

"For some time now our priority has been focused on tackling and reducing the number of homes broken into across the county and these figures show we have achieved this with huge reductions in house burglaries. The force is also ranked second highest when it comes to reducing break-ins to other buildings such as sheds, outbuildings and business premises."

"Bedfordshire is a force that continues to punch above its weight however we can only do this with the support of the public and volunteers, including the Special Constabulary and Cadets, who we rely on to help prevent crime."

Bedfordshire's Police and Crime Commissioner Olly Martins added; "The officers and staff of Bedfordshire Police are to be congratulated on another good year of cutting crime, particularly burglary, even at a time of government funding cuts and organisational upheaval. The recent success of Operation Sabre, including significant numbers of arrests across the county for offences related to burglary and handling, demonstrates the Force's determination to take the fight against crime to the criminals, especially those offenders who cause our communities most harm. This is how we will continue to cut crime and make our county safer."

Bedfordshire has seen some of the largest reductions in crime rates in England and Wales including:

  • 15% reduction in overall crime – 4th largest reduction in England and Wales
  • 14% reduction in Domestic Burglary – the 11th largest reduction (8% decrease nationally)
  • 28% reduction in other burglary – the 2nd highest reduction
  • 18% reduction in Violence Against the Person – the 3rd highest reduction (6% decrease nationally)
  • 17% reduction in offences against vehicles – the 15th highest reduction
  • 15% reduction in Criminal Damage – the 8th highest reduction (8% decrease nationally)

Bedfordshire's overall crime rate for the period was 59.7 crimes per 1000 population, below the England and Wales rate of 67.0 crimes per 1000 population.

Flood Alerts - Are You Prepared

This article was published in December 2012. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Slide in the rain - melodi2/sxc.huAs rain is expected to continue to fall over the next few days the Bedfordshire and Luton Local Resilience Forum members will be out and about to ensure you are kept up to date with any flooding news in your area.

Several flood alerts have been put into place within the county by the Environment Agency which includes the Great Ouse at Newport Pagnell to Turvey in Buckinghamshire and from Sharnbrook through Bedford to Wyboston.

Surface water is the biggest problem at the moment and Bedfordshire Police together with the Highways Agency are warning motorists to take extra care as they make their journeys throughout the weekend and over the festive period.

Motorists are also advised to keep an eye on weather forecasts and be prepared to change their journey plans if necessary. As the wet weather subsides motorist should also be extra vigilant as temperatures drop and possible black ice forms on road surfaces.

Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Richer, who is leading the Resilience Forum response, said: "A meeting of the Bedfordshire and Luton Local Resilience Forum, including emergency services and local authorities, was held today (Dec 21) to make sure all preparations for monitoring the water levels and warning the public are in place.

"All agencies are ensuring that they have enough resources available to deal with any flooding over the holiday period when traditionally most staff are on leave. With further heavy rain expected on Saturday and again at the beginning of next week be assured all members of the forum will continue to work closely together to monitor the situation regularly through the festive period."

He added: "The people of Bedfordshire are no strangers to the threat of flooding but now is the time when residents living in the areas that have previously flooded should take some precautionary measures by visiting the Bedfordshire and Luton Local Resilience Forum website where they can keep up to date with the latest advice and also access the Environment Agency website for further advice and news."

For further information householders can call the Floodline on 0845 9881188 which gives the latest state of flood alerts, and for advice on what preparations to make can visit the resilience forum website

New Police and Crime Commisioner Named

This article was published in November 2012. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Bedfordshire PoliceOn Thursday the 15 November the people of Bedfordshire elected Olly Martins as their Police and Crime Commissioner.

Following the election result Chief Constable Alfred Hitchcock said "I am pleased to welcome Olly Martins as the Police and Crime Commissioner for Bedfordshire. I look forward to building a successful partnership with the Commissioner to fight crime and protect the public".

The Crime Commissioner will take the oath on Monday (19 November) and will formally take office on Thursday (22 November).

Beds Police Authority Announcement on Organisational Support

This article was published in June 2012. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Bedfordshire Police Authority have agreed to commission further work to examine the option of outsourcing the delivery of support services across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire.

In parallel, the Police Authority also instructed Bedfordshire's Chief Constable to develop and take forward, in consultation with the Police Authority, a second option in the best interests of Bedfordshire which can be developed to full business case. In both cases they also agreed that the final decision will be taken by Bedfordshire's Police and Crime Commissioner when appointed in November this year.

For the outsourcing proposal to move forward as recommended by the three Chief Constables, it needs the agreement of each police authority. Hertfordshire Police Authority agreed to commission the work at their meeting earlier this week (Monday, 25 June), while Cambridgeshire Police Authority met yesterday (Thursday June, 28) to consider the recommendation.

The move comes as part of the on-going collaboration between Bedfordshire Police, Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Hertfordshire Constabulary which, along with the three police authorities, have established a Strategic Policing Alliance.

The business case will examine in detail the outsourcing of these services through the existing Lincolnshire Police contract, which has G4S as the supplier.

Source: Ringmaster Bedfordshire

Outsourcing to be Considered to Protect Frontline Policing

This article was published in June 2012. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Outsourcing of police support services in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire is being considered as part of continuing efforts to tackle the £73 million shortfall in police funding for the three counties.

Police Authority members in the three counties will be asked to consider later this month (June) how services including HR, finance and ICT could be outsourced in future as part of a joint recommendation made by the three chief constables.

The move comes as part of the on-going collaboration between Bedfordshire Police, Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Hertfordshire Constabulary. 

A recommendation that a full business case should be developed to scrutinise this proposal in more detail was discussed on Wednesday (May 30) by the Police Authorities Joint Collaboration Working Group.

As a result, it was agreed that each of the three Police Authorities will be asked in late June to consider formally the commissioning of a Full Business Case for outsourcing support services through the existing Lincolnshire Police framework, with G4S as the supplier.

If agreed by all three police authorities, the earliest that outsourced services could be in place would be April 2013.

Does THAT Car Belong In Your Street?

This article was published in June 2012. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Bedfordshire PoliceBedfordshire Police are urging residents to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious or abandoned vehicles in their area.

In recent week there has been a slight increase in burglaries across the county where thieves are looking for car keys to steal the homeowner's vehicle.

For most people, a car is the most expensive possession that they own and for this reason detectives are keen to reunite stolen property with their rightful owners as quickly as possible.

Newer cars generally have a security system in place which makes it almost impossible for the vehicle to be stolen without the keys. For that reason, thieves are committing burglaries specifically to steal car keys and any other valuables that are nearby.

To help reduce the risk of car theft, Bedfordshire Police is urging motorists not to leave their car keys or valuables anywhere where they can be easily seen from outside or within range to be 'fished' through the letterbox.

Detective Chief Inspector Steve Vesztrocy said: "One of the greatest tools that Bedfordshire Police has in fighting crime and protecting the public is the 550,000 pairs of eyes and ears that belong to the residents.

"As we continue with our attempt to lower auto burglaries I would ask for the public to remain vigilant and not to hesitate for a moment to report anything suspicious. Have you seen anyone paying particular attention to cars or houses in your road? Is there a car parked up that isn't ordinarily in your street? Have you seen somebody driving a car that isn't theirs? If so, let us know."

If you have information relating to burglaries, vehicle theft or have spotted an abandoned vehicle in your street, contact Bedfordshire Police, in confidence, on the non emergency number 101, or text information to 07786 200011.

Alternatively contact independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111, or online at

Source: Ringmaster Bedfordshire

International Missing Childrens Day 25 May 2012

This article was published in May 2012. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Bedfordshire PoliceOn International Missing Children's Day (25 May) a new free helpline (116 000) and website ( will be launched to help the hundreds of thousands of children who go missing every year, reconnect to a place of safety, bringing together the combined efforts of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre, Parents and Abducted Children Together (PACT) and Missing People.

The confidential helpline - 116000 - is a 24 hour support service which missing children and their families can call or text to get access to advice and support.

The website will provide: 
The latest appeals on missing children; information for children who are missing or who are thinking of running away; and information on what their families and carers can do if a child in their care goes missing.

Both initiatives are a response to the Government's Missing Children and Adults Strategy, launched in December 2011.
The launch of these new services will be the focus of a formal Downing Street reception on Wednesday 23 May. Hosted by the Home Secretary, Rt Hon Theresa May, supporters and campaigners will be joined by key organisations and celebrities in order to raise awareness of the plight of thousands of children who go missing every year.

The launch of the 116 000 helpline, provided by Missing People, will be supported by a TV, cinema and outdoor advertising campaign by creative agency BBH, which has been made possible thanks to the generous support of ICAP, Cinema Exhibitors Association and the Outdoor Media Centre and its members. On 25 May, hundreds of London taxis will raise awareness of missing children with appeals in the back of their cabs organised by PACT, including for Andrew Gosden, who went missing in September 2007 at the age of 14. He was last seen at London's Kings Cross Station.

The new website, brings together a range of support services connected to helping missing children, including educational materials developed by CEOP. It is part of their work in providing a dedicated national lead on missing children, announced by the Home Secretary in 2011. The launch of the website is being supported by an outdoor advertising campaign organised by PACT that will include bus shelters, where young, missing children may well see the important messages around these vital support services. 

In the lead up to events surrounding International Missing Children's Day, Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone met with young people to hear about their experiences of running away and going missing. During a visit to The Children's Society in Islington last week, she met with the teenagers, who have been supported by the charity's work around the country.

As part of the Government's continued commitment to providing support for families of missing children and adults, the Home Office continue to provide grant funding to support delivery of the charity's helpline and case publicity work. This has been £220,000 during this financial year.

Lynne Featherstone, Minister for Equalities and Criminal Information said:

"Missing children and their families are vulnerable, and International Missing Children's Day reminds us of the role we all have to play in protecting and supporting them.

"Government has set a clear direction for this with our Missing Children and Adults strategy, calling on local and national organisations to prevent, protect and provide support for missing children and their families.

"I am delighted to be marking this year's event by supporting the launch of two excellent support services which will offer real support to children who need it."

Peter Davies, Chief Executive at the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre said:

"By the very act of going missing, children are made more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.  Getting timely and relevant help and information to missing children and their families is a vital part of safeguarding those most vulnerable.  The new website and help line do just that by providing the channels for them to reconnect to a place of safety. 

"As the national law enforcement lead for missing children, it is important that CEOP continues to better understand the reasons why children go missing and work with the child protection community as a whole, to help them find help to deal with the often complex underlying issues in their lives, ultimately reducing the incidences of missing children in the UK."

Martin Houghton-Brown, Chief Executive of Missing People says:

"Disappearances such as Madeleine McCann's tragically demonstrated the need for coordination across the world when a child goes missing; 116 000 is introduced so that people can call when someone disappears regardless of which EU country they are in. The launch in the UK has been made possible by ICAP."

The Founder and Chief Executive of PACT, Lady Catherine Meyer, said:

"With over 140,000 children going missing in the UK each year – more than one every five minutes – PACT is delighted with this major breakthrough.  With the re-launch of the Missingkids website, and CEOP's taking responsibility for and abducted children, we finally have the tools to bring hope to those whose children have gone missing or been abducted.

"The important thing now is to raise public awareness of the website. This is why, thanks to the support of ICAP Charity Day, PACT is producing hundreds of posters. It has also commissioned a fleet of specially branded black cabs to drop off and pick up guests at a No. 10 Downing Street reception to mark International Missing Children's Day, to be hosted by the Home Secretary, the Right Hon Theresa May"

Police Back Walk To School Week

This article was published in May 2012. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Bedfordshire PoliceBedfordshire Police will be supporting the national Walk to School Week which runs from Monday May 21 until Friday May 25. 

Members of Local Policing Teams will be attending a number of schools across the county to talk to students about the importance of road safety awareness, reinforcing key personal safety messages and also assisting some schools that operate walking buses and park and stride schemes.

Richard Denton, the Children & Young People Development Officer and School Coordinator for Bedfordshire Police said: "Whilst this type of work is undertaken throughout the year we would like to use this week to ask parents, guardians and careers who need to drive their children to school to try and park away from the school in a safe place and walk the last few hundred yards as this may help stop traffic congestion and potential collisions outside schools.

"We will also be using this week to reinforce key personal safety messages to students walking to school to help them keep safe."

Personal Safety advice for students walking to school and other educational establishments 

  • If possible walk with a friend or group of friends.
  • Stay alert – Keep an eye on everything that is happening around you.
  • Avoid wearing earphones or chatting on your mobile phone, as this will distract you from your surroundings and you may not see or hear trouble approaching. The sooner you are aware of potential danger, the easier it is to avoid it.
  • Keep both hands free and don't weigh your-self down with lots of heavy bags – you need to be able to move easily.
  • Trust your instincts – If you have a 'funny feeling' about someone or something, don't ignore it, act on it straight away.
  • Take the route you know best and stick to busy, well-lit streets.
  • Avoid danger spots like deserted parks and badly-lit areas.
  • Walk in the middle of the pavement, facing oncoming traffic. This will avoid any cars driving up alongside you as you walk.
  • Think about your route home. Where would be a safe place to go if something went wrong? Safe places might be busy places like shops or garages, friends' houses or a police station.
  • Have your keys ready so you can get into your home quickly.

 To find out more about Walk to School week visit

Digital TV Switchover Helpscheme - help is at hand for the over 75's and for those with disability

This article was published in April 2012. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Switchover Help SchemeBy 18th April 2012 you will need to have converted your TV to digital, or, if it already is digital, you will need to retune it* - in order to continue receiving a television service.

(* Note - Cable and Sky customers are not affected by the switchover)

The BBC-run Switchover Help Scheme can convert one TV to digital for eligible viewers.

You are eligible for the Help Scheme if you are:

  • aged 75 or over, or
  • live in a care home (for six months or more), or
  • receive (or could get) Disability Living Allowance (DLA), or
  • Attendance or Constant Attendance Allowance, or Mobility Supplement, or
  • registered blind or partially sighted

If you are eligible then the Help Scheme will write to you directly. All you need to do is respond to the letter by sending back a completed reply form or telephone for free on 0800 40 85 900. If you receive a letter, please respond even if you don't need any help.

The scheme can provide and install easy to use equipment to switch one TV. It includes an approved installer, aerial upgrade if needed and a 12 month aftercare service, with free helpline. Most people will be asked to pay £40 towards the service but it can be free for those who receive certain income -related benefits.

Do you know someone who needs a helping hand switching to digital TV? Please talk to them and make sure they get the help they are entitled to by telling them about the Switchover Help Scheme.

For further information on the Switchover Help Scheme visit: or call 0800 40 85 900.

Textphone users can call 0800 40 85 936.

Bedfordshire Police: Making Contact: March 2012

This article was published in March 2012. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Bedfordshire Police Authority: Making Contact
Issue 17 - March 2012

Policing in Bedfordshire is entering a new era and this newsletter also aims to keep the public and our partners up to date with the latest developments on the transition to Police and Crime Commissioners.

1. The Budget

Last month, Bedfordshire Police Authority voted to increase the portion of council tax residents pay towards policing next year by 3.95%. The decision was taken to reduce further cuts to the front line and to provide the Force with the capacity to meet future challenges.

The increase means households will pay an extra £5.72 a year for the average Band D property (11p per week).

The Authority decided against accepting the Government's offer of a one-off grant on the basis that this would have brought funding shortfalls in the future and inevitably resulted in more cuts to Police Officer and staff posts in the next two years. Although some Police Officer posts must still be lost as the Authority tries to identify £5.6m of savings this year, the additional income from council tax will provide greater financial security in the future.

Feedback gathered during consultation events suggested the majority of residents supported a small rise in council tax to strengthen local policing. In our online budget survey, 65% said they would prefer to see performance safeguarded through a precept increase.

The total budget for the Force next year was agreed at £100.637m. We recognise the difficulties that economic pressures are having on our hardworking families however this decision has been taken with their safety in mind and will ensure we can respond when needed.

2. Strategic Plan

Bedfordshire Police Authority has drawn up a plan which sets out how the Force aims to make the county safer over the next four years in the face of a severe funding shortfall. The Strategic Plan 2012-16 incorporates the priorities and concerns raised by the public during consultation and spells out how the Force intends to address them. To view a summary of what residents told us click this link

The four main performance goals developed by Police Authority members and the public in 2010 continue to form the basis of the plan. These are: protection of life, protection from violence, protection of property and protection from disorder. These goals will drive all areas of policing, even those services which are carried out on a collaborative basis with other Police Forces. The overall aim for each will be to drive down offences and improve detection rates as well as increase the satisfaction of victims.

Anti-social behaviour remains a key priority for the Force but it is not just a police issue. Tackling it requires a holistic approach so we work closely with other organisations including criminal justice agencies, local councils and the voluntary community sector to address problem areas.

We are aware of the need to improve the satisfaction of those who have to use police services because they are victims of crime. This year the police will put in place new systems to make sure victims receive regular contact, detailed updates and increased service quality.

In the foreseeable future the forthcoming Police and Crime Commissioner will take over the mantle and become the victims' champion, and will engage the full range of local services to address key issues.

During the next four years, Bedfordshire's police service also aims to deliver further value for money for council taxpayers. We are already heavily involved in collaborative work which has reduced costs considerably and improved resilience. We will continue to deliver large savings by radically changing how our support functions (human resources, finance and training) are organised and by cutting our spending on goods and services.

We would like to thank those partners who contributed to the consultation which shaped the 2012-16 Strategic Plan and to the public whose feedback informed the priorities set.

3. Transition to Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC)

Arrangements are already well underway in Bedfordshire to lay down the foundations for the new Police and Crime Commissioner, who will replace the Police Authority from November 2012. The PCC will fulfil an important role for the public, not only ensuring the Force operates efficiently and effectively but also by holding the Chief Constable to account.

The Police Authority and the Force's Chief Officer Team are working hard to ensure all the necessary preparations are made for the PCC to take up their post. Our aim is to create a smooth transition to the new structure to avoid any impact on performance which is one reason why members have voted to increase the council tax precept to provide a stable financial platform. A number of workshop events have taken place across England and Wales to help local police representatives and partner organisations prepare for the PCC.

In addition, the Government is expected to announce secondary legislation later this month which will give further guidance on the implementation of Police and Crime Panels. Police and Crime Panels (PCPs) are a key feature in the new system, formed to hold the Commissioner to account on behalf of the public and provide a "check and balance" role. The legislation is expected to cover the duties of PCPs such as its power of veto over various issues including the Commissioner's proposed precept and the Chief Constable's appointment process.

It will also set out regulations for the process of nomination and the appointment of local authority members on PCPs. Two co-opted Members will also be appointed by the Councillor members of the Panel. The Panel may co-opt additional members including extra councillors provided the Panel does not exceed 20 members and the Home Secretary agrees to the increased size of the Panel. Bedford Borough will host Bedfordshire's Police and Crime Panel.

Bedfordshire is in the process of finalising its PCC information packs which will be helpful to anyone considering applying for the role of the PCC. More information can be found on the dedicated section of our website and the Home Office has also published an information booklet for potential candidates available at:

4. Elections

Residents will be able to vote for Bedfordshire's first PCC on November 15 2012. More information on the election process is due to be announced by the Home Office later in April. The elections will use the supplementary voting system which is currently used to elect mayors, the closest existing role to PCCs. Under this system, voters are asked to indicate first and second preferences. Candidates are elected if they gain more than 50% of the first preference votes. If not, all but the top two candidates are eliminated and the second preferences from everyone who voted for an eliminated candidate are added to the totals of the top two candidates. The candidate who receives the most votes wins and becomes the Police and Crime Commissioner. The idea of this system is that it encourages conciliatory campaigning, as candidates will still want the second preference votes from residents whose first choice is for another candidate.

5. Performance success

Bedfordshire Police Authority prides itself on listening to the public and understanding their needs and has welcomed new performance figures which show the Force is meeting its promises to address the crimes which matter most to them.

Burglary was identified as a top priority for residents throughout 2011 and was listed as such in the Strategic Plan. Figures now show the action taken to address this crime has resulted in two fewer burglary offences per day over the last year (from 10.7 per day in 2010 to 8.7 between April 2011 and March 2012). Meanwhile, police are also solving a greater number of burglary offences, from 16% in 2010/11 to 21% in 2011/12.

The picture is equally as positive for overall crime, with almost five fewer offences being recorded per day during the same period (meaning 2,800 fewer victims). Bedfordshire Police has also maintained its improved national rank positions in all of its priority detection categories compared to last year which means our communities are not only safer, they are also receiving a better service in the investigation and detection of the crimes.

By continuing to address the issues and concerns of the public and driving down crime rates, confidence in local policing will improve and more people will be satisfied with our service.

6. Major Policing Event

It is possible that there may be an English Defence League event in Luton in May. The Force is seeking legal advice around all of the issues associated with any march or demonstration particularly knowing the impact this type of event has on the community, both socially and in terms of financial loss.

Bedfordshire Police are very aware of the fear and concern people have based on the community impact assessments already carried out. They are making it a priority to talk to and seek opinions from everyone affected by the proposed event and they are in daily contact with Luton Borough Council, community and faith leaders. The Force is keen to reassure the residents of Bedfordshire that whatever course of action is taken by the police it will be firm, fair, focussed and effective on the day.

And finally...

If you know of anyone who may like to receive a copy of this, please forward this email - and please copy us in so that we can include their address on our distribution list.

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.

Tel: 01234 842066
Email: [email protected]

Bedfordshire Police Authority

Source: Bedfordshire Police Authority

New Carers Support Service - Carers in Bedfordshire

This article was published in January 2012. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

NHS BedfordshireFollowing months of planning by carers, NHS Bedfordshire, Bedford Borough Council, Central Bedfordshire Council and Voluntary Organisations, the single carers support service went live on 1st October 2011 serving all of Bedfordshire.

Carers in Bedfordshire now provide support to carers of all ages in all caring groups across Bedfordshire. This includes telephone, email and web advice and information, specialist one to one support (such as for people caring for someone with a mental health problem) and support for young carers. They deliver training courses, run support groups and administer the NHS Carers Break and Training Grant service and run the very popular carers cafes at weekends across Bedfordshire.

If you or someone you know provides unpaid support (not including benefits) to someone who is ill, frail, disabled or who has a mental health or substance misuse problem - that makes you a carer.  Many carers do not see themselves as carers; they say they are just someone's husband, wife, relative, friend or neighbour. However, if you carry out caring responsibilities for someone who could not manage without your help then that means you are a carer and are entitled to information and support.

For information, advice and support around your caring role contact Carers in Bedfordshire on 0300 111 1919, email [email protected] or visit

Bedfordshire Police: Making Contact: December 2011

This article was published in December 2011. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Bedfordshire Police Authority: Making Contact
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 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.

5. Elections

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.

And finally...

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.

Tel: 01234 842066
Email: [email protected]

Bedfordshire Police Authority

Source: Bedfordshire Police Authority

Specials Thanked for Regional Support During Public Disorder

This article was published in November 2011. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Bedfordshire PoliceSpecial constables contributed 19,495 hours across the region to the policing response during widespread public disorder in August.

There are more than 2,200 Specials in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk and they played a key role in maintaining community stability.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hopkins, Eastern Region Specials lead, said: "Once again, this demonstrates how Special constables are part of our everyday business and how we can rely on them for support. The number of hours they contributed was outstanding and their regional support was invaluable."

Nigel Green, Eastern Region Specials Coordinator, said: "I would like to thank all officers for their support during the operation. Across the region there were 70 arrests made during the disorder by Special constables.

We rely heavily on Specials not just for general policing but during major events. Without their help the regular police force would be further stretched. Specials are volunteers. They give up their time to reduce crime and the fear of crime. They come from a variety of backgrounds and do all of this to police the local communities for no pay."

During the disorder Specials carried out front line duties at key locations, including reassurance patrols.

For more information about Specials or if you're interested in becoming a Special, visit our Single Volunteering Unit page.

Source: Ringmaster Bedfordshire

Bedfordshire Police: Making Contact: October 2011

This article was published in October 2011. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Bedfordshire Police Authority: Making Contact
Issue 14 - October 2011

Bedfordshire Police is entering a period of unprecedented change and we are committed to keeping the public, our partners and stakeholders fully informed of these developments.

1. Value for Money

As taxpayers, the public quite rightly expects public services to be financed properly. Delivering value for money services has always been a priority for Bedfordshire Police Authority, particularly in light of the recent budget constraints, and we are pleased to report that we have again received official recognition for our efforts.

Following an independent inspection, we were one of only five police authorities nationally to receive the highly-coveted Level 3 "Good" rating demonstrating our exceptional use of public funds.

The rating has also been backed up by a report by the Audit Commission, which assessed Bedfordshire Police Authority as "green" for its work to secure value for money – the highest rating given by the Commission for looking after public funds.

Our arrangements to ensure financial resilience as we face a severe funding gap have been met with approval by inspectors as well as the systems we have put in place to secure economy and efficiency at a time of financial hardship.

Residents can be assured that we are leading by example in our efforts to achieve economy, with our collaborative arrangements with other forces described as a beacon for other Police Authorities to follow.

Not only is it important to us to spend taxpayers' money wisely, residents can be assured we are also committed to providing them with a greater say on how we can use our resources well. The Authority has been recognised for its consultation work with the public on policing priorities and finances.

2. 101 - The New Number to Call

Contacting the police has now become much easier in Bedfordshire thanks to the launch of our new, three-digit telephone number for non-urgent enquiries.

The memorable 101 telephone number has been designed to increase accessibility to the police and people can use the line to report minor crime, discuss crime prevention advice or other non-urgent matters. Focus groups welcomed the introduction of a single easy to remember telephone that they could use from anywhere to contact the police.

It will also relieve pressure on the emergency service which spends a considerable proportion of time dealing with inappropriate 999 calls which are not genuine emergencies.

On average, Bedfordshire Police receives more than 1,300 calls a day however only about 11% of those require an emergency response from the police.

Calls to 999 should always be in the context of a real emergency such as when a crime is happening, when someone suspected of a crime is nearby or where someone is injured or in danger. All other matters such as reporting a less urgent crime or contacting police with a general enquiry should be made on the 101 number.

3. Update on Police and Crime Commissioners

Proposed changes to the police governance structure finally became a reality last month after the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill received Royal Assent, ending months of debate on the issue.

This means that by the end of next year police authorities will cease to exist and will instead be replaced by directly-elected Police and Crime Commissioners.

The Authority has welcomed the clarity this decision provides and is now working hard to prepare for the transition to the new arrangements.

Elections for the new PCCs have been put back to November 2012 to give everyone involved more time to get ready for the handover and make sure it is as smooth and seamless as possible. The extra time will also facilitate the publication of national guidance to assist us as we set up a framework for the new structure.

We like to reassure residents that we are working hard behind the scenes to safeguard recent improvements made in performance and public satisfaction rates. In our view, it is 'business as usual' as we continue to deliver our work across all areas of our responsibility to achieve the best possible outcome for our communities. We are committed to keeping the public fully informed of all developments relating to PCCs and will deliver this information in a timely manner so that our communities know exactly what is happening.

It is important that the PCC inherits a financially sound organisation, and over the next few months, we will press ahead with our pioneering collaboration programme to develop further value for money projects which will improve our ability to deal with serious and organised crime and make people safer.

The strong collaborative foundations that we have put down will continue to grow in the future and we take great pride to have played such a vital role in this.

4. Update on re-organisation

From this month, all the reorganisation work we have been busy working out over the past few months will start to take effect, bringing major changes across the force which will help it to run more efficiently while also saving money.

The changes mainly relate to the way we organise our staff and should not be noticeable to local residents. They are mainly concerned with making sure the Force utilises its resources in the most effective way possible and mobilises the right people at the right time.

The force will implement the three local policing districts, already widely publicised, this month, each of which will be led by their own Chief Inspector and linked to local authority areas. PCSOs will continue to provide a vital link with communities and deal with local issues and concerns, while more police officers will be available to respond to minor crime, anti-social behaviour and problem hotspots. Local policing will become a more prominent priority with extra resources to deal with the issues that matter most to the public.

The three Chief Inspectors for the districts have been named as:

  1. Bedford - CI Rob McCaffery
  2. Central Bedfordshire - CI Neil Waring
  3. Luton - T/CI Rob Bartlett

To contact your local policing team click here and follow the links to your local authority area.

We will be able to give problems such as sustained anti-social behaviour a higher priority and any intelligence generated will be used to help the investigation process and prevent future offences.

Officers will be responsible for investigating low level crime affecting communities, targeting and disrupting prolific offenders living in neighbourhoods through early identification.

A new Response Policing Team (RPT) will attend incidents countywide, with new technology being deployed to help save money and speed up response times.

The response officers will respond 24-hours-a-day from bases in Bedford, Luton, Dunstable, Leighton Buzzard, Ampthill and Biggleswade, and will usually be the first point of contact for the public in an emergency situation.

Plain clothes detectives will also cover the whole county, investigating and detecting more serious crimes.

The Force also aims to increase the number of incidents resolved on the telephone, which will reduce demand on frontline staff. As a result, it is improving the way the Control Room operates by introducing a new appointment system to resolve non-emergency issues. This enables police officers to meet victims and witnesses at times convenient to them.

The Police Authority has been keen to consult with the public and our partners throughout the reorganisation process which has guided many of our decisions. We are keen to continue that two-way communication in the months ahead and will be asking residents at a later stage whether these changes are having any impact on the service they receive to ensure we continue to meet public expectations.

5. Integrated Offender Management

Can we draw your attention to the Integrated Offender Management Leaflet? This bulletin has been sent on behalf of the Integrated Offender Management Team, which has been subject to significant investment by the Police Authority, to inform you about the joined up approach being adopted to prevent reoffending.

And finally...

If you know of anyone who may like to receive a copy of this, please forward this email - and please copy us in so that we can include their address on our distribution list.

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.

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.

Tel: 01234 842066
Email: [email protected]

Bedfordshire Police Authority

Source: Bedfordshire Police Authority

Dial 101 for Non-Emergency calls to Bedfordshire Police

This article was published in September 2011. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Bedfordshire PoliceBedfordshire Police have launched a new number providing people with a new way to get in touch about non-emergency issues. 101 is now the main number to call Bedfordshire Police when it is less urgent than 999.

As well as making the police more accessible to communities, it is intended that 101 will reduce the number of inappropriate 999 calls.

There will be a single flat charge of 15p per call, regardless of the duration, time of day, mobile or landline.

You should call 101 to report crime and other concerns that do not require an emergency response. For example:

  • Stolen cars
  • If you suspect drug dealing/taking
  • To give us information about crime in your area
  • To speak to your Local Policing Team

In an emergency, always call 999 when you need an immediate response, For example:

  • Because a crime is in progress
  • Someone suspected of a crime is nearby
  • When there is danger to life
  • When violence is being used or threatened

101 will not:

  • Change the way in which the police respond to non emergency calls
  • Connect people to a large national call centre
  • Result in calls receiving a lower priority than if 999 had been called for a non emergency issue

101 should not be used to report:

  • Fly tipping
  • Noise pollution
  • Stray dogs

These should initially be reported to Central Bedfordshire Council on 0300 300 8000

Source: Ringmaster Bedfordshire

Police Response Provides Public Reassurance Overnight

This article was published in August 2011. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Bedfordshire Police AuthorityExtra officers were deployed to known hotspot areas in Bedfordshire during the night and as a result disrupted any potential for disorder that may have occurred.

Speculation on social media sites that 'rioting' had begun in Bedford and Luton was untrue and messages were quickly posted by the Force Communications team via Twitter and Facebook to reassure communities that all was quiet across the county. Public appreciation for these messages has since been re posted.

While there was no disorder, reports of a couple of small fires being started were received, which the Fire Service responded to as 'business as usual'. One was at Leagrave Motors in Sundon Park Road at around midnight and a bin fire at Arrow Close, both in Luton sometime later. No other incidents were reported and no one was injured.

While events are on-going in London and cities elsewhere, Bedfordshire Police has also taken the precautionary measure and requested fuel stations do not to sell jerry cans or containers of fuel.

The Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Civil Contingencies and Public Order Planning Unit also sent a Police Support Unit (PSU) to assist the Metropolitan Police operation in London. Custody space and call taking support was also offered.

Anyone with information that could assist police in their prevention of disorder should call the main switchboard on 01234 841212, text to 07786 200011 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

More officers to tackle Crime in Our Communities

This article was published in August 2011. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Bedfordshire Police AuthorityBedfordshire Police have drawn up ambitious plans to improve the service provided by the Force while also saving taxpayers' money.

From October 2011, the Force and the Police Authority will deliver a more streamlined process to improve both operational capacity and capability. This means that more officers will be available to deal with incidents reported to us by the public.

The Force carried out a detailed review of the way it organised key departments to identify areas where costs could be cut and performance improved. During the process, residents confirmed they were happy for structural matters to be dealt with by the Force so long as they received an appropriate police response when needed and crime continued to fall.

The new changes will see the number of police officers dedicated to local policing double from 92 to 185. This means a larger number of officers will be available to tackle local crime, anti-social behaviour and other community concerns while PCSOs will carry out more patrols.

There will no longer be any geographic boundaries or divisions separating communities. Instead, a Chief Superintendent will oversee Local Policing while another will be responsible for Tackling Crime.

Through reorganisation, the Force and the Police Authority will speed up response times. A new centralised team will respond to incidents county-wide officers will get to where they are needed more quickly as well as save money.

Meanwhile, a greater number of incidents will be resolved over the telephone to reduce demand on frontline staff thanks to a new appointment system for non-emergency issues. A recent survey found that people accepted this as a good way of dealing with non-urgent matters. A new three digit non-emergency number will be introduced in the autumn, after which time all you will need to dial is 101 for non-urgent situations.

Peter Conniff, Chair of Bedfordshire Police Authority, said: "We've listened to our residents throughout the review process and their comments have very much informed our strategic decisions. The changes have been made to promote greater access to police services and deliver a more effective response that meets the expectations of our communities."

Launch of Central Bedfordshire Music Service

This article was published in July 2011. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Bedfordshire Youth MusicThe new Central Bedfordshire Music Service has been launched - with a new "competitive" pricing structure starting in September. The local authority hopes that the new package will strengthen opportunities for group learning, and are aiming to increase the minimum number of guaranteed music lessons in schools from 30 to 33 a year.

The cost of attending Leighton Buzzard Music Centre, and other similar facilities in Central Bedfordshire, have also been set to ensure that more youngsters will be able to use them.

The council has redesigned the former Bedfordshire Music Service and is operating it on a cost neutral basis as part of the response to its budget challenge. This has allowed for a reduction in lesson fees again.

Councillor Mark Versallion, executive member responsible for children's services, said: "The vision of the service is to give children and young people the opportunity to become the best musicians they possibly can."

For revised lesson fees and charges, which will come into effect in September, visit

Summer Youth Music Courses will be playing on over the school holidays with more than 300 young musicians taking part. For the course and concert schedule, see Summer Youth Music Courses.

Bedfordshire Police: Making Contact eNewsletter: June 2011

This article was published in June 2011. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Bedfordshire Police Authority: Making Contact
Issue 11 - June 2011

The Authority has just held its AGM, heralding the start of a challenging, and possibly the last, year for the Police Authority. This newsletter looks at the new appointments for the Authority, Police Performance and the way we are driving down crime, and the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill.

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.

Peter F Conniff, Chair, Bedfordshire Police Authority
Stephanie McMenamy, Chief Executive, Bedfordshire Police Authority

Peter Conniff Re-elected as Chair of the Police Authority

At the Authority’s AGM, held on 20 May 2011, Peter Conniff was unanimously re-elected as Chair of the Authority. This will be Peter’s seventh year as Chair.

Peter said that he was proud to be re-elected and that the coming twelve months promise to see new challenges on top of those with which everyone is well acquainted.

Residents will therefore pay £144.77 per annum (which works out at 40p a day) in 2011-12 for a Band D property, which is the same rate as last year.

Talking about the financial situation he said that the next four years will be very difficult for Bedfordshire Police and this is why the extended collaboration programme is so important. He said: “Collaboration with other forces, in particular Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire, will help us to maintain the numbers of our Neighbourhood Officers for at least another year.”

Reflecting on the last twelve months, Mr Conniff acknowledged that the merger debate early in the year had had a clear impact on the Force’s focus and performance. “Once the ‘will we, won’t we’ merger debate was over, whatever your point of view on the merits or otherwise, we all moved on,” he said.

“Since then the Authority has appointed a new Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable who have refocused work on police performance and now we are seeing some optimistic results although we, and the public, need to be confident that these improvements can be sustained.”

Working with Partners

Linda Hockey, another Independent Member, was re-elected for a second term as vice-chair. This role has special responsibility for partnership working which sees Linda in close contact with our statutory partners. She also is the Authority’s representative on the Local Strategic Partnership.

Penny Fletcher (Independent Member) was appointed Chair of the Performance Scrutiny Committee and will also represent the Authority on the three local Community Safety Partnerships.

John Williams (Independent Member) will be the Authority’s representative on the Safeguarding Children Boards.

Other Committee Chairs have also been appointed:

  1. Resources Scrutiny – Fiona Chapman (Cllr Member)
  2. Compliance and Risk Management – Tony Brown (Independent Member)
  3. Standards – John Jones (Independent Lay Member)

Post Election News

Following the local elections we welcome some new appointments to the Authority. Bedford Borough Councillor Colleen Atkins returns to the Authority after a two year break, while Doreen Gurney and Iain MacKilligan from Central Bedfordshire have been appointed for the first time.

At the time of writing this newsletter, we are waiting for confirmation of the Luton Borough Councillor appointments.

All Councillor appointments to the Authority are made by the Joint Appointments Committee and are not the responsibility of the Police Authority.

We would also like to wish outgoing members, John Mingay, Alison Graham, Christina Turner and Lakbir Singh, well in the future and thank them for their contribution to the work of the Authority.


By the end of the 2010-11 year the force had recorded a disappointing increase in overall recorded crime of 3.5% (1495 more crimes compared to the previous year).

Members of the Authority agreed that the year had been a year of two halves, with the merger debate contributing to the downturn in police performance in the first six months. However, the noticeable up-swing seen over the last six months of the year has continued into the first month of the current year.

To ensure the momentum is maintained, the Performance Scrutiny Committee has asked for a report on Serious Acquisitive Crime, looking at areas where crime has increased the most.

We know that, across all three local authority areas in Bedfordshire, anti-social behaviour (ASB) continues to be a key concern for residents. When considering the Force’s performance the Police Authority was therefore particularly pleased to see a reduction in reported ASB incidents of 13% (over 5000) in 2010/11.

All three authorities have identified tackling ASB as a priority area once again for the coming year, and our ambition is to improve on this performance and provide residents with positive outcomes and reassurance. We are grateful to the number of partners who have been involved with the Operation Vision days that have been taking place across the county, details of which can be found later on in this newsletter.

It is also satisfying that criminals have learned the hard way that their ill-gotten gains can be taken away from them. Bedfordshire Police recovered nearly £1.5m in the last 12 months! A proportion of this is awarded to the force to help reduce crime.

The upward trend in performance is illustrated on the chart below, which shows the recorded crime figures for April 2011 compared to April 2010:

  1. Violence Against the Person – 828 offences, an increase of 13.4% (equating to 98 more victims)
  2. Sexual Offences – 27 offences, a reduction of 42.6% (20 fewer victims)
  3. Burglary Dwelling – 235 offences, a reduction of 27.0% (87 fewer victims)
  4. Burglary Other – 227 offences, a reduction of 15.9% (43 fewer victims)
  5. Robbery – 63 offences, a reduction of 13.7% (10 fewer victims)
  6. Theft of a vehicle – 62 offences, a reduction of 34% (32 fewer victims)
  7. Theft from a vehicle – 301 offences, a reduction of 13.3% (46 fewer victims)

Three-force Collaboration saves £20M

The AGM also saw members agree a formal three way Strategic Policing Alliance with Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire, which will help all three forces to reduce the impact of the funding cuts on frontline policing services. All three Police Authorities have now signed up.

This Alliance aims to provide savings £20M across the three areas, which is the equivalent of 400 police officers. When you consider the current financial climate when officer and staff numbers are being reduced, you can see just how significant this agreement is.

The strategic alliance will reduce the impact of the cuts on the number of police officers providing visible local policing AND improve the effectiveness functions designed to prevent crime.

Areas where we think the Alliance will provide most benefit include Finance, Human Resources, Information Technology, Contact Management, Criminal Justice, Firearms and Dogs. The aim is to design the most economic service delivery model for this type of activity across all three forces.

Local Policing

The major changes in our structure, highlighted earlier in the year, are now being developed. Over the coming months we will arrange one-to-one meetings and Partner Practitioner Days to help us work through the detailed design of these changes with you. The new structure is likely to be fully operational by the beginning of October 2011 and these meetings will form part of our engagement and consultation between now and then.

We plan to keep you fully informed of our progress and development after the partner practitioner sessions have helped us shape the final design. Look out for various consultation events over the next few months.

Every possible effort will be made to make sure that partners, and more importantly still the public, are aware of any changes they can expect to the policing service they receive, especially if it affects the local policing teams.

If you would like to know more about your local Neighbourhood Policing Team, please use the link below:

Listening to Local People

In our consultation over the last year people told us that they felt policing should be focused on reducing crime and the offences which cause most harm. As a result we are working with the Force to identify and address the issues associated with:

  1. Crime ‘hot spots’
  2. The most prolific offenders
  3. Repeat victims

This work is helped tremendously by Operation Vision when police officers, PCSOs, cadets and support staff are all mobilised into an area. The aim is to talk to as many residents of a particular community as possible – by knocking on doors and asking questions about what the main concerns of the community are.

Typically, around 1000 homes are visited in a day – and other activities such as enhanced patrols by Special Constables in the evening and targeted phone calls to previous victims of crime from volunteers working in the police control room also take place.

One such day in Biggleswade recently saw over 750 homes and farms visited, when 248 people were spoken to about their issues and concerns, the majority of which focused on thefts involving outbuildings and metal. Around 50% of those contacted have signed up to the Ringmaster messaging service to enable them to receive alerts and information about crimes in their area.

The day also saw three people arrested for crimes such as money laundering, drugs offences and burglary, while British Transport Police issued 32 fixed penalty notices for fare evasion. In the evening, a team of specials returned to the streets of Sandy to carry out patrols around anti-social behaviour.

Operation Vision will be in action again throughout the year on the following days:

  1. 23.06.11 - Bedford
  2. 19.07.11 - Luton
  3. 14.09.11 - Central
  4. 13.10.11 - Bedford
  5. 15.11.11 - Luton
  6. 13.12.11 - Central

A number of partners have been involved in these operations to date, if any organisations would like to support future events please contact [email protected] in the first instance.

Operation Vision will be featured in the Crimewatch Roadshow during the week commencing 20 June.

Update on the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill

This Bill has had a somewhat rocky ride over recent weeks. After more amendments than any previous Bill, it was finally presented to the House of Lords at the end of April.

Firstly Lady Hamwee recommended that the concept of directly elected Police and Crime Commissioners was piloted instead of the proposed big bang approach. Then Nick Clegg, even though confirming that Commissioners are still on the cards, added that ‘how’ is open to discussion. Next, Baroness Neville Jones (the former minister of state responsible for security and counter-terrorism who has since resigned), ruled out pilots in her response to the Lords debate on 27 April.

Then, in a surprise move, after two weeks of heated verbal ping pong Baroness Angela Harris put forward an amendment which won support by 188 votes to 176. The Baroness proposed that Police Commissioners should be appointed (not elected) by a police and crime panel, in much the same way that the Chairs of Police Authorities are selected.

Baroness Harris said directly elected police and crime commissioners posed "great risks to policing" and raised doubts about who would have the power to hire and fire chief constables. "I am very concerned that the evidence base for making this change is incredibly thin and the consequences of implementing it have not been thoroughly researched or properly thought through," she said.

Clearly, the Government will endeavour to overturn this decision when the Bill returns to the Commons later this year. However, with the Bill still to be debated clause be clause in the House of Lords, timescales for its return to the House of Commons are uncertain. What is clear though is that there is still a lot more work required on this Bill and more public debate needed. Meanwhile, we will have to wait and see what impact, if any, the Lords intervention will have.

We will need to work with our partners to make the transition from Police Authorities to Police and Crime Commissioners and Police and Crime Panels successful. Once we have a clear picture of the implications of the national debate we will start working with you to make this work for Bedfordshire.

Tell us what you think!

The circulation of this newsletter is growing all the time and we try to ensure that it contains information of interest to you. If you have any comments, or specific information that you would like to see included please let us know.

And finally...

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.

Tel: 01234 842066
Email: [email protected]

Bedfordshire Police Authority

Source: Bedfordshire Police Authority

Creative thinking to maintain creative services

This article was published in June 2011. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Bedfordshire Youth MusicCentral Bedfordshire Council is developing fresh thinking as it prepares for the launch of a new Music Service later this year.

Government grant reductions have required the Council to reduce its costs by £19.2m during 2011/12. Redesigning the former Bedfordshire Music Service and operating it on a cost neutral basis is part of the Council’s response to its budget challenge.

“We want to make sure that Central Bedfordshire children can continue to develop their musical potential so we’ve been consulting with young people, their parents and schools.

"Following this we have reconfirmed our commitment to the four Music Centres in Ampthill, Biggleswade, Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard” said the new Executive Member for Children’s Services, Cllr Mark Versallion.

Cllr Versallion also said “Originally we planned to reduce funding to the music centres and we expected that at least one of them would need to close. However, as a result of a further review of our overheads and back office costs, we’ve been able to extend funding to all four of the music centres in the short to medium term. This gives the Music Service time to work with its customers and potential partners to work up our new service programme before the national introduction of regional hubs in 2012.

The Council has been allocated a reduced grant for music provision from national government of £394,000. With this it will introduce a new and more flexible model of music tuition. At the moment fees have been high from April but by working more efficiently, it is hoped that fees will reduce for parents as the year goes on and more young people access the service.

Central Bedfordshire Music Service will be launched in July, supported by a newly designed marketing plan. There will be clear goals to put a greater focus on advertising existing and new activities and responding more flexibly to the identified needs of the young people and parents.

As part of the service re-design a series of workshops are being held with schools, external partners in the business and the voluntary sector, pupils and parents to join Central Bedfordshire Council in developing plans for the future.

“If we work together we can find ways of not only protecting these important services, but to develop them for the talented young musicians of current and future generations” added Cllr Versallion.

For further information please contact: Tom Skinner on 0300 300 5738.

Source: Central Bedfordshire Council News Release

Bedfordshire Police: Making Contact eNewsletter: April 2011

This article was published in April 2011. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Bedfordshire Police Authority: Making Contact
Issue 10 - April 2011

At our recent meeting, the new Chief Constable Alf Hitchcock gave members a brief overview of his first few weeks in the Force. He has certainly been busy, meeting with many local organisations to look at future policing needs across Bedfordshire. In a run down of the some higher profile policing issues that have occurred since he joined us, he praised the professionalism of the officers and staff who policed the recent EDL demonstration so successfully alongside partners, community mediators, cadets and external Forces.

Peter F Conniff, Chair, Bedfordshire Police Authority
Stephanie McMenamy, Chief Executive, Bedfordshire Police Authority

Police Part of Council Tax Frozen for 2011-12

At its meeting held on February 18th, 2011, members of Bedfordshire Police Authority unanimously agreed to freeze the proportion of council tax local people pay towards policing next year.

The decision was in recognition of the financial hardship many households in the county face in the current economic climate. As a result, the Authority now qualifies for a Government grant, equivalent to a council tax increase of 2.5% to make up for any lost revenue generated from council tax.

Residents will therefore pay £144.77 per annum (which works out at 40p a day) in 2011-12 for a Band D property, which is the same rate as last year.

The Budget for Policing Bedfordshire in 2011-12

Next year’s budget for policing Bedfordshire was approved at a figure of £103.115million, which takes into account the funding shortfall from the Government of £3.970million.

During the next four years, the Authority’s funding from the Government will reduce by approximately £19million and two-thirds of these savings must be made over the next two years, which means the Authority needs to save £6.2million in 2011/12 and a further £5.6million in 2012/13.

Fortunately we have plans to handle this situation as a result of our previous efficiency programmes and contingency planning.

Both the Force and the Police Authority have spent many months considering internal processes and structures to seek out less expensive and more effective ways of working. We have set out to introduce new ways of working that will not damage performance or threaten the services that matter most to our communities, reorganising several key aspects of our service so that we can still deliver a quality policing service.

Local Policing Plan Fights Crime and Protects Public

The budget approved by the Authority has been developed to ensure that all resources are used to maximum effect where they are most needed. The way in which resources are deployed is agreed with the Authority and the Chief Constable, which results in the production of the Local Policing Plan.

The Police Authority has approved an overarching four year plan which incorporates more specific information for the coming year. The plan clearly states that Bedfordshire Police will focus on Fighting Crime and Protecting the Public, which is the primary purpose of the Force.

The plan aims to deliver four key outcomes:

  1. Protection of Life
  2. Protection from Violence
  3. Protection of Property
  4. Protection from Disorder

As we explained in the last newsletter, we are introducing new ways of working that will remove managerial layers and make the force more efficient by providing a highly localised service. A new centralised structure will provide local policing teams assessing local requirements before calling for support from experts in areas such as crime investigation.

Naturally, resources must be allocated to meet demand but we are clear that every area will have its own local policing team.

Both the Authority and the Force are clear that the focus in terms of performance should be targeted on those areas that cause the most harm to our communities and require improvements. Therefore the Police Authority will concentrate its scrutiny on key areas for improvement over the next twelve months.

The full plan can be found here.

What Local People Said

To ensure that the way we use our resources reflects the views of local people, once again we asked people what they thought. Our online survey asking how people would like to see our resources used was completed by 1,445 people, including 76 businesses.

We were pleased to learn that two thirds think that the Police provide good value for money, which verifies the views of Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary and the Audit Commission.

We also asked people to prioritise the use of police resources. People felt that it was more important to have a higher focus on the protection of life and protection from violence than disorder issues, although 83% felt that resources should be targeted on areas where crime and anti social behaviour are higher. The vast majority (87%) confirmed that they would be happy to see different a workforce mix as long as their policing needs were still met.

Several people also told us that in their view the role of the police has become too broad, suggesting that a "back to basics" would be more effective.

Looking Ahead

While it is likely that directly elected Police and Crime Commissioners will replace Police Authorities by May 2012 there remains a lot to be achieved before then.

The ongoing funding cuts will mean that we will need to make some difficult decisions to ensure that we can balance the budget for 2012-13, while ensuring that the quality of policing does not suffer. We are planning to focus our efforts on scrutinising areas that have had recent investment to ensure that performance improves while costs are cut.

Our forward planning and preparation for the new landscape mean we are well placed to meet the challenges ahead and ensure a smooth transition to the new governance processes.

Over the next few months we will gain greater clarity on these issues and will keep you informed.

Go ahead for joint road policing unit

Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Police Authorities have approved a new joint unit to deal with all road policing issues (including traffic patrols, the deployment and development of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology, investigations into serious road collisions and road deaths, traffic management and vehicle recovery) across the two counties.

The move will provide increased resilience and greater resources at peak times, as well as efficiency savings. In its first full year, the joint function will save both forces around £654,000 and this is expected to increase in subsequent years to almost £700,000 per annum.

The move follows the establishment of a number of successful collaborative initiatives for the two forces over recent years, including a joint Dog Unit, Scientific Services Unit and Major Crime Unit, which are currently delivering savings of £3million per year.

In addition, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire are moving towards establishing a Strategic Policing Partnership with Cambridgeshire which will enable the three forces and police authorities to work together to establish further collaborative units in due course, including a three-force road policing function.

Our collaboration projects are designed to help us protect the local policing service that our residents have told us is very important to them. We will continue to work with our local partners to ensure that local people receive the type of service that matters most to them.

And finally...

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.
Tel: 01234 842066
Email: [email protected]

Bedfordshire Police Authority

Source: Bedfordshire Police Authority

Pupils will lose out in music cuts

This article was published in February 2011. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Bedfordshire Youth MusicMusical students in Bedford Borough will still be able to hone their skills, but those living in areas governed by Central Beds Council, such as Eaton Bray, could miss out.

Bedfordshire Music provides instrumental tuition and other music opportunities in the county and is a shared service between Central Beds Council and Bedford Borough Council.

While Bedford Borough Council has protected access to music tuition for local school children, Central Beds Council is considering plans to cut all its funding for the shared service.

The Mayor of Bedford Dave Hodgson said: “I will simply not allow Central Beds Council's unilateral decision to cut all its funding for the music service to damage access to this excellent service in Bedford Borough.

"We are protecting music tuition in the borough, giving all children and young people the chance to enjoy music and the positive impact it can have.

"Access to high quality music tuition and further opportunities in music must not only be for the children of the very well off."

On a weekly basis, it provides lessons and area music centre activities for children, young people and adults.

Councillor Anita Lewis, portfolio holder for children's services at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “Bedfordshire Music is currently a shared service between Central Beds Council and Bedford Borough Council.

"The shared service agreement is due to expire at the end of March and we are moving forward with a proposal to disaggregate the service from Bedford Borough at the end of the summer term.

"The future provision of a music service in Central Beds is subject to review and consultation. The consultation will be undertaken with schools and interested parties and will consider alternative ways of delivering a music service provision to the children and young people in Central Beds."

Read the full article on the Bedford Today website.

The Friends of Bedfordshire Youth Music website has further information about the proposed cuts by Central Bedfordshire, along with details of how you can show your support to keep Bedfordshire Music supplying services to both councils.

Source: Bedford Today

Campaign for Bedfordshire Music

This article was published in January 2011. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Bedfordshire Youth MusicCentral Bedfordshire Council, which hosts the Bedfordshire Music Service, has announced that they are proposing to cut the funding it currently gives the service to zero during 2011 and intends to reorganise and disaggregate the Music Service.

Consequently, Bedfordshire Music Service will cease to exist in August 2011. It is planned that Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire will each develop their own separate music service provision arrangements from September 2011.

Please email or write a letter to your councillor in protest at this cut in funding and the disaggregation of the Bedfordshire Music Service, and show your support by signing the FBYM petition and attending the meeting on 8th February.

You can also download a copy of the letter sent to Friends and Schools detailing how you can help.

Bedfordshire Police: Making Contact eNewsletter: January 2011

This article was published in January 2011. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Bedfordshire Police Authority: Making Contact
Issue 7 - January 2011

As you will be aware, the weeks ahead represent some of the most challenging we have ever faced and we intend to keep you updated as matters progress. If you have any questions about any of the issues in this newsletter, or any other matter that is within the Police Authority's area of responsibility, please do contact us.

Peter F Conniff, Chair, Bedfordshire Police Authority
Stephanie McMenamy, Chief Executive, Bedfordshire Police Authority

1. The Funding Cuts

In December 2010, the Government announced details of police funding for the two financial years from April 2011 and indicative figures for the following two years.

In total, the reductions equate to approximately £19M over the next four years, with £6.3M of this needing to be found in 2011-12 and £5.6M in 2012/13.

We have been bracing ourselves for this for some time and a great deal of groundwork has already been undertaken so that we can minimise the impact on operational policing.

However, there is no getting away from the fact that the Police Authority and Force will now need to make difficult decisions to protect frontline policing services as far as possible.

2. Local Policing remains top priority

We have been exploring a range of options which will reduce the organisational structure of the Force but fundamentally maintain the local policing teams which are valued by the public. In the following articles you will see how we intend to do this.

In the meantime we are working to set the budget, agreeing where our resources should be used and seeing how we can extend our collaboration work with other forces and partners to stretch our funding further.

You can give us your views on our budget from January 13, by visiting the website and completing our budget survey.

When the grant was announced we were disappointed that, despite the support of our MPs, Bedfordshire is still not receiving the full grant relative to its needs. On the positive side, however, the Government agreed to retain the Neighbourhood Policing Fund for another two years which helps to fund PCSOs.

3. Police Numbers

In order to meet the required reductions in funding, we will be changing the way in which some services are delivered. As a result it is anticipated that there will be both police officer and staff cuts.

We expect that in 2011/12 police officer numbers will reduce by 60, but both the Authority and Force are committed to minimising the impact on frontline services and any unnecessary expenditure will be cut.

We are determined that with the new ways of working, due to be in place by April 1st this year, the public will receive an improved service that is excellent value for money - delivering real savings.

4. Improving Services, Reducing Expenditure

The funding cuts have meant that we have had to look at new ways of working - ways that focus on the provision of a quality policing service that best meets the needs of our communities.

Following the decision not to progress with a merger between ourselves and Hertfordshire Constabulary attention was therefore focused on a project called Programme 2011, looking at different ways of working, both in terms of visible policing and support functions, to see how these can be provided more efficiently.

The changes include the delivery of local policing services. There will be no geographical divisions: instead, there will be a Chief Superintendent in charge of Local Policing and another directing the work to tackle crime.

There will be three local policing districts who will work with the Community Safety Partnerships in each unitary area and Local (Neighbourhood) Policing Teams will be given additional resources to help them to tackle more crime.

The result of this is that policing will be more localised, which is what the public have said they want to see.

There will also be one countywide team to respond to incidents, with bases spread across the county. The single team will bring economies of scale and with the aid of the Authority's investment in new technology, is intended to speed up response times.

Improvements in the way the Control Room is operated will lead to more issues being resolved by telephone. The appointments system is already improving the service we give to the public. Improvements to technology will help us have the right resources in the right place at the right time.

Programme 2011 will also see a more centralised approach in terms of criminal justice, intelligence work and public protection, increasing our resilience and providing economies.

The Crime Management team will focus on the most serious crimes which have the greatest impact. This team will increase the number of support staff in specialist roles to make it more efficient.

All support services will be reviewed to ensure that the appropriately skilled people are in the right posts. This will enable us to preserve frontline policing services.

5. Collaboration and Partnership Working

Already acknowledged nationally as the leaders in collaborative working with our police partners, we are delighted that Cambridgeshire has recently agreed to join the strategic partnership between Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire. This three way programme will bring greater economies of scale and help us all become more efficient.

Current collaboration projects include policing services which deal with specialist operations, such as major incident investigation, roads policing and forensics. In addition, we are also collaborating on certain 'back office' services including Information Technology and Procurement.

The Collaboration programme is already delivering savings amounting to £3m per year, and we have ambitious plans for the future. However, it is clear that this alone will not be enough.

Therefore we are exploring new ways of working with our partner agencies to see where a more 'joined up' approach can be adopted. This includes areas such as improved access to services, offender management, property and business services.

6. Local Services for Local People

Our overall priority is to maintain the services that matter most to local people and we are fully committed to keeping the public, partners and stakeholders fully informed and consulted on the changes to services.

As part of this, the Authority is undertaking a series of presentations at Community Safety Forums across the county over the next few weeks, when people will be able to ask questions and give feedback on our plans.

7. Elected Police and Crime Commissioners

The recent Police Reform Bill sets the way for Police Authorities to be replaced by Police and Crime Commissioners. There will be one Commissioner for the county of Bedfordshire who will be elected by the public in May 2012. Further details will be provided in a future communication when the transition arrangements and their implications on the public and partners have been clarified by the Coalition Government.

For further information or to contact us:

Bedfordshire Police Authority
Bridgebury House, Woburn Road, Kempston, Bedford, MK43 9AX.

Tel: 01234 842066

Email: [email protected]


Bedfordshire Police Authority

Source: Bedfordshire Police Authority

Campaign for Bedfordshire Music

This article was published in November 2010. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Bedfordshire Youth MusicCentral Bedfordshire Council has recently announced that funding to Bedfordshire Music is to be cut to ZERO from April 2012.

More details at Campaign for Bedfordshire Music and in the letter below from Catherine Rose.

This would be a sizeable chunk of the Bedfordshire Music budget being cut and would mean either increases in tuition costs or presumably the loss of some groups or music centres.

The good news is that none of this is set in stone yet, so you can do your part by writing to your local MP to let them know how important the Bedfordshire Music service is.

If you've ever benefited from using the Bedfordshire Music service (through its ensembles, Saturday morning music centre, music lessons, instrument provision, etc), or know someone that has, then please write to your local MP and help raise the profile of the Campaign for Bedfordshire Music.

Dear Friends,

If you are thinking of writing a letter in protest at the 100% cut in cash funding to the Bedfordshire Music Service planned for April 2012, PLEASE CAN YOU DO SO BEFORE 12TH NOVEMBER?

I've just realised that the Council is currently reviewing the music service and will have finished this process by 15th November, so we need to get their attention before then.

Anyone needing more information or doesn't know what I'm talking about, please visit

PLEASE SEND THIS ON to anyone you sent information on to before.

I'm particularly keen to get this to PARENTS, STUDENTS AND TEACHERS but I do not have individual emails so please keep it going viral!

The website has had 1337 visitors since it went live on Friday lunchtime - keep up the energy!

Thank you!

Catherine Rose

Update: There are further comments on FBYM and Facebook.

Source: Michael & Catherine Rose

Local electoral arrangements for Central Bedfordshire finalised

This article was published in October 2010. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

The independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) has published its final recommendations for new local government electoral arrangements for Central Bedfordshire Council.

Today's publication follows months of public consultation and draws boundaries for each ward across the Central Bedfordshire area. Central Bedfordshire is a new council with 66 members elected to the former county divisions in temporary arrangements established at the formation of the new unitary authority.The Commission published its draft recommendations, which provided for a council of 59 members, in May 2010 and today confirms that figure in its final recommendations.

The arrangements announced today provide permanent electoral arrangements for the council that ensure electoral equality for local voters as well as recommending wards that reflect natural communities and encourage effective and convenient local government.

Max Caller, Chair of the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE), said: “Our recommendations determine how many councillors will serve on the council. They also decide which wards you vote in. We're grateful to the people across Central Bedfordshire who took the time and effort to send us their views because having fair wards, where each councillor is representing around the same number of people, is important.”

The proposed new arrangements must now be implemented by Parliament. An Order - the legal document which brings into force the recommendations - will be laid in Parliament in the coming weeks. The draft order allows for the new electoral arrangements to come into force for the next council elections in May 2011.

Full details can be found on the LGBCE website: Central Bedfordshire electoral review.

Source: Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE)

New Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police

This article was published in October 2010. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Bedfordshire Police AuthorityBedfordshire Police Authority has today announced the appointment of Alf Hitchcock as the next Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police.

Mr Hitchcock, who is currently Deputy Chief Constable at the National College of Police Leadership at the Police Staff College, Bramshill, will take over when the current Chief Constable, Gillian Parker, retires at the end of the year.

Congratulating Mr Hitchcock on his appointment, Chair of the Police Authority, Peter Conniff, said: "I'm extremely pleased to have been able to appoint someone with such extensive experience across different areas of policing, experience which will undoubtedly be used to Bedfordshire's benefit. On behalf of the full Authority, I welcome him on board and look forward to working with him as we address the challenges ahead."

Speaking after his appointment was revealed Mr Hitchcock said: “It's fantastic news and an honour to have been selected. I was particularly keen to be appointed as Bedfordshire is made up of both rural and urban areas, each having its own complexities in terms of the way policing is delivered, which represents a really exciting challenge.

“There are also some really difficult challenges to be tackled in the coming years and I'm delighted to have the opportunity to address these with a Force that is so forward thinking and positive about the future. Whenever I have visited the Force I've been impressed by the enthusiasm of all the officers and staff.”

Background Information

Alf HitchcockMr Hitchcock started his career with Lancashire Constabulary in 1977 where he carried out a number of operational roles.

He joined the Metropolitan Police Service in 2003 as an Associate Director teaching the national Strategic Command Course at the Police Staff College, Bramshill.

In 2004 he moved into Territorial Policing and took on the responsibility for nine territorial boroughs and held the Criminal Justice portfolio.

By 2005 he had lead responsibility for the Safer Neighbourhoods Programme in the Metropolitan Police area and had delivered the successful roll out of Neighbourhood policing across the whole of London by the end of 2006. In 2007 he became Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Operational Services, with responsibilities including Professional Standards, Diversity and Citizen Focus.

In 2009 he was appointed Deputy Chief Constable he joined the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) to help set up the new National College of Police Leadership and review the leadership courses delivered by the Leadership Development Unit.

Mr Hitchcock has an Honours degree in Psychology, two Masters degrees in Organisational Management and Business Administration, a post graduate diploma in Applied Criminology, and is a fellow of the Chartered Management Institute. He was a recipient of the Queens Police Medal (QPM) for distinguished service in the 2008 New Year's Honours. He is married with two daughters and enjoys skiing.

Source: Bedfordshire Police

Bedfordshire Police: Making Contact eNewsletter: September 2010

This article was published in September 2010. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Bedfordshire Police Authority: Making Contact
Issue 6 - September 2010

1. Policing in the 21st Century

In late July, the Home Secretary announced the Government’s plans for policing, which include greater collaboration between police forces; more use of local volunteers; and promises of less bureaucracy, greater access to information and regular beat meetings. However, the most controversial element is the proposal to introduce directly elected Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to replace Police Authorities.

The Government states that Commissioners will ensure the police are held to account by the public and their role will incorporate holding the Chief Constable to Account; representing and engaging local residents; setting priorities and agreeing a strategic plan for the force; setting the force budget and the precept; and appointing and where necessary firing the Chief Constable.

In short, one person will be elected to undertake a role currently carried out by 17 members and supporting secretariat. However, it does not appear that this will reduce the amount of administration and bureaucracy, as this individual will appoint their own supporting team and it proposed that there will also be a panel of people in place to overview the work of the commissioner, known as Police and Crime Panels.

The proposed timescales will see the first elections take place in 2012, with Commissioners elected to serve a four year term, for a maximum of two terms.

Bedfordshire Police Authority members, having considered the proposals carefully, do not believe that PCCs can improve upon, or even deliver, the current system of governance and accountability. They have also questioned the need for change of such magnitude in the current age of austerity, when public sector funding is reducing and the demand for services is likely to increase. Change will inevitably lead to a dip in performance and additional cost at a time when attention should be focused on maintaining services and efficiency savings, both of which the Police Authority is arguably the best placed organisation to deliver.

2. Change in the Age of Austerity

Bedfordshire Police Authority has an enviable track record for driving efficiency savings and ensuring value for money. For example, between 2006-7 and 2009-10 alone the Authority has driven an efficiency programme amounting to £17.9M of which £12.5M is cashable savings.

In the current climate, with guaranteed funding cuts on the horizon (although the extent of these are still under wraps), it seems highly questionable to abolish the very body that has the most experience in efficiencies and funding issues.

The Authority has considered the cost implications of the new proposals, which will inevitably land firmly on the wallet of the local council tax-payer one way or another. They are, it is believed, considerable. The cost of the elections alone has been conservatively estimated at approximately £50M although firmer figures are being prepared nationally. In addition, the salary of a PCC (another figure still to be unveiled by the Government), given the complexity of the role, will have to be commensurate with that of a Chief Constable or similarly qualified person. In addition, the PCC will appoint a support team of indeterminate size, the proposed Police and Crime Panel will inevitably have significant overheads of its own while the prospect of a referendum on the policing precept heralds further ill-considered and as yet unidentified costs.

At the current time there is no proven cost benefit in making these changes yet the Government has said this an age of austerity. We are struggling to identify the austerity in these plans. There may well be an appropriate time to consider new models for governance arrangements but we do not believe that is 2010.

3. Police Authority Visibility

The Government’s proposals state that Police Authority’s are largely invisible. However, a recent survey in Bedfordshire showed that 64% of the respondents knew about the Police Authority and our role.

This was not a huge surprise. We know from experience that members of the public contact us, particularly if there is a topical issue that they feel strongly about. The Authority also obtains a significant amount of coverage in the local media, which many people state as their preferred method of obtaining information.

In addition, all our Committee Meetings are open to the public, and Police Authority members take part in the local community safety forums all of which raises the visibility of members’ work.

4. Policing should remain Non-Political

The Authority has very real concerns that Directly Elected PCCs will lead to the politicisation of policing. As Chief Constables will be hired and fired by an individual who has been elected on a manifesto of aims, objectives and probably ambitious promises, it is hard to see where impartiality can lie when it comes to prioritisation.

Elected commissioners, on whatever mandate they achieve their status, will be obliged to be sympathetic to supportive groups. There will be concern about their own prospects of re-election and therefore it is likely that there will be push towards addressing high profile ‘populist’ crime instead of the underlying strategic issues.

The Authority is concerned that under the proposed arrangements, local policing priorities could become victim to party politics or single issue campaigns while underlying drivers such as serious and organised crime and counter terrorism will be downgraded.

The Authority believes that chief officers must not be driven by political whim or extremist views introduced as an election ticket and is concerned that consciously or unconsciously, it is likely that PCCs will wield influence over the way the county is policed.

There is also a significant level of concern that single issue pressure groups will be able to get representatives elected to this very powerful and influential position thanks to their ability to garner significant support from their own members. Already the BNP has confirmed that it has people interested in these positions and said it is highly likely it will stand in as many forces as it can.

5. One Person to Fit All?

The Police Authority, with its mix of independently appointed and locally elected councillor members, provides representation to the whole community. It also ensures that geographical, diversity and equality factors are taken into account. Can just one person do this?

The Police Authority offers the skills and experience of its 17 members. Amongst its membership are specialists in areas such as Audit, Finance, Human Resources, Equality and Diversity, whose expertise has helped improve policing in Bedfordshire. For example, Bedfordshire Police has retained its Investors in People accreditation and is acknowledged as an employer of choice. The levels of sickness have plummeted and modern management techniques have been introduced, freeing up officer time and putting patrols back out on the streets. Our elected (Councillor) Members listen to local people and understand their priorities, hence the focus on neighbourhood policing. How can one person deliver all this?

And how many people will actually vote for a PCC? Just 25% of the local electorate turned out to vote for the first Mayor of Bedford and by its own admission the Home Office is not sure of a high turn-out for Police Commissioners. Please, go on-line and take part in the poll on our website

In addition, we do not believe that people from under-represented groups will stand for election. The right to do so may exist, but logically they are unlikely to have the necessary party machinery or backing to physically undertake an election campaign. This again leads back to the fact that only those on a political ticket or with a well funded agenda will be able to stand.

6. Just for the Record – Vote Now

This is not a ‘save our role’ exercise. We strongly support reform where the benefits are plain to see, but we do not believe in change for change’s sake.

The commissioner, the support team and the Police and Crime Panel will between them take responsibility for areas such as:

  • Holding the Chief Constable to Account – Police Authorities already do this
  • Appointing and where necessary firing the Chief Constable – Police Authorities already do this
  • Representing and engaging local people to ensure that policing is available in and responsible to local communities’ needs – Police Authorities already do this
  • Driving collaboration – Bedfordshire Police Authority has led the way in collaboration
  • Commissioners will play a considerable role in community safety – the Police Authority already works with the local CSP

The consultation period closes on 20th September 2010. Please let the Government have your views.

We would also like to know whether you would or would not vote for a directly elected Police and Crime Commissioner – visit the website and answer the question on the homepage

Bedfordshire Police Authority
Bridgebury House, Woburn Road, Kempston, Bedford, MK43 9AX.

Tel: 01234 842066

Email: [email protected]

Bedfordshire Police Authority

Source: Bedfordshire Police Authority

Bedfordshire residents asked for views on boundary recommendations for local councils

This article was published in May 2010. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

The independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) is asking people in Bedfordshire to comment on proposed new local electoral arrangements for Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire Councils.

A public consultation on the recommendations begins today and will end on 12 July 2010.

The reviews will decide how many councillors should sit on each Council and will also establish new boundaries for local wards. The Commission's draft recommendations, published today, include maps of the proposed new wards that each councillor would represent.The recommendations will be available at council buildings and libraries shortly, and are available online at

Max Caller, Chair of the LGBCE, said: “Having fair electoral boundaries for your council is important. Our reviews aim at ensuring electoral equality, meaning that each councillor should represent a similar number of people.

"The information that people and organisations sent us in our earlier consultations have informed our draft recommendations. Your ward should be a realistic reflection of your community area. We want people to tell us whether the boundaries we've drawn make sense. Rivers, roads and railways make effective boundaries but it's not always that clear cut. We now want people to tell us what they feel the impact of the recommendations will be on their community, whether they think the recommendations can be improved and, if so, how."

The Commission wants to hear as much clear and well-argued evidence as possible in order to develop final recommendations for Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire Councils. If you would like to make a submission to the Commission, please write by 12 July 2010 to:

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England
Bedford / Central Bedfordshire Review
Layden House
76-86 Turnmill Street

Or email:[email protected]

Further information on electoral reviews and guidance on what sort of information the Commission is looking for should be available at council offices, in local libraries, or on our website at

Source: Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE)

Bedfordshire Youth Opera proudly presents... Carmen by Bizet

This article was published in September 2008. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Carmen will transport you to a world of Spanish gypsies, soldiers, bullfighters and smugglers and is one of the most famous operas of all time. A tragic love story with an outspoken, brash female lead, it is filled with musical highlights, including the famous Habanera and Toreador songs.

Bedfordshire Youth Opera - Carmen - 1st-6th September 2008

1 September - 6 September 2008, 7.30pm

University Theatre, University of Bedfordshire, Polhill Campus, Bedford

Tickets £10 and £8 from Central Box Office Bedford 01234 269519
Group discounts available

Excluding 3 September which will be the successful schools' tour 'Fairytales without Fairies' with performances by acappella singing group Peculi8 Tickets £5, group discounts available

For more details, visit

Source: Bedfordshire Music

House prices in Bedfordshire double in only seven years

This article was published in February 2008. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

House prices in Bedfordshire have almost doubled over the last seven years, according to figures from the Land Registry.

In December 2000, buyers had to pay £97,556 for the average home in Beds, but by December last year the cost had rocketed to £189,687.

That means prices have risen by £1,096 a month over that time, or £253 a week, and the increase has been almost relentless, with the cost of the average home only dipping twice, by less than £100 in August 2003, and then by £542 between July and December 2005.

However in the past year the number of sales across the county has fallen sharply, from 1,138 in December 2006 to 676 the following October.

Tony Inskip, owner of Urban & Rural Property Services, said: "This shows what a good investment buying a house is in the end.

"Prices doubling in such a short space of time is a surprise. If you had asked me in 2000 whether I expected this to happen then I would have told you that I wouldn't have thought so.

"In the longer term, despite one or two blips, property has outstripped almost all other investments.

"And it is something we can all play with. Everybody needs somewhere to live, and you don't have to be an expert in stocks and shares to enter the market.

"But I do feel desperately sorry for first-time buyers, because how they do it defies logic sometimes. It comes down to a mixture of longer-term mortgages, help from the previous generation, and the fact that first-time buyers tend to be older now than they used to be."

To see the cost of house prices in your area, visit

Get the Leighton Buzzard Observer every Tuesday.

Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 19 February 2008

Council encourages us all to get walking

This article was published in May 2007. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

County council spokesman, John Pilgrim, said: "We all know that exercise is good for us but there's so much conflicting advice around about how best to keep fit that it can be confusing. But nothing could be simpler than joining a few friends on a good walk through the Bedfordshire countryside.

"Research shows that taking a walk is good for you and taking that walk along with a group of friends through pleasant surroundings is a real bonus."

To find out about walks in your area, visit the website at, or telephone healthy walks manager, Liz Millbank, on 01234 762605.

Mr Pilgrim said the council's countryside access team has also produced a number of leaflets which contain information on some stunning walks in the county.

County council cabinet member for community services, Cllr Bob King, said: "The great thing about keeping fit through walking is that you can do it at your own pace and so those 30 minutes a day that we should all spend walking can also be split up into short 10 minute pieces while you build up your fitness.

"There are also ways that people can keep fit and help the community at the same time. Why not offer your services to one of the teams who work throughout the county on conservation projects? They will be pleased to hear from you".

Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 8 May 2007

The greens v the rats - who'll win?

This article was published in May 2007. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

A magnet for vermin or an intelligent way to get people recycling?

The great bins debate has been rumbling on again, and with bin collections back in the headlines, people up and down the country have been talking rubbish this week.

More than 140 councils have already scrapped weekly bin collections in favour of alternate weekly collections, and South Beds District Council is set to follow their lead later this year.

From September 3, householders in the district will have their black bins emptied one week and recyclables picked up the next.

It's been dubbed a way of reducing the amount of rubbish going into landfill, and the council claims recycling rates are set to rocket.

But when the decision was announced last September the Gazette was inundated with angry responses from taxpayers.

This week the district council confirmed that there are no plans to extend kerbside glass collections, so many recyclers will have to continue taking glass to bottle banks.

Since the council's executive committee decided to scrap weekly bin collections, a lot of the talk has been on whether leaving rubbish in bins for longer poses health risks.

An investigation by the News of the World has claimed that levels of "dangerous organisms" found in bins rise dramatically if rubbish isn't picked up for a fortnight.

But the paper also pointed out that research has also shown two-weekold waste is safe if it's wrapped up properly.

This week South Beds District Council said that so far feedback from the public has been "minimal and mixed".

And a spokesman said: "While some residents have expressed concern about the issue, once it is explained to them, most appreciate that it will lead to improved recycling rates and that it is necessary if the council is to avoid landfill taxes.

"The experience from other councils is that the introduction of an alternate week collection service does not result in any increase in rodents or insects, provided people wrap their food waste safely and securely, and store it in their black-wheeled bin with the lid closed."

People living in flats with communal bins will continue to have their rubbish picked up weekly, the Gazette has learned.

The district council is set to spend around £600,000 rolling out new orange recycling bins and mounting an education campaign.

This money comes from a local area agreement grant from Beds County Council.

Two national newspapers, including the News of the World, have mounted campaigns against alternate weekly collections.

It's been one of the big talking points ahead of local elections across the country tomorrow, but it's not one that divides easily along party lines. Councils controlled by all the major parties have switched to alternate collections.

Among these is neighbouring Mid Beds, where the district council claims that the project has been a success.

More than 15,000 tonnes of household waste were diverted from landfill to be recycled, and the recycling rate doubled between April 2005 and March 2006, according to Mid Beds District Council.

And research by the Local Government Association (LGA) suggests that areas where rubbish is picked up less often have higher recycling rates.

LGA chairman Sandy Bruce Lockhart said: "Britain is the dustbin of Europe with more rubbish being thrown into landfill than any other country in the continent.M

"For decades people have been used to being able to throw their rubbish away without worrying about environmental consequences or rising costs.

"Those days are now over."

Source: Dave Burke, Dunstable Gazette, 2 May 2007