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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

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

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

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

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

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

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