Bedfordshire PCC addresses lack of trust in policing

Bedfordshire's Police and Crime Commissioner Festus Akinbusoye Image: Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner
Bedfordshire's Police and Crime Commissioner Festus Akinbusoye. Image: Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner

Bedfordshire’s police and crime commissioner said the force is working hard to improve the public’s confidence in policing.

In January, the think tank More in Common published a report that it claimed outlined Britons’ attitudes on crime and policing.

One of its findings was there is a lack of trust in the police – with almost half of those polled saying they don’t trust police officers with just one in ten trusting the police “a great deal”.

Bedfordshire’s police and crime commissioner (PCC), Festus Akinbusoye, said: “I can understand [the findings] given the plethora of cases that keep coming out every week about misconduct in police forces across the country.

“In terms of improving public confidence in Bedfordshire Police, once a year officers are reminded of the culture and standards that are expected of them.

“A huge amount of effort is going into this, but there is no quick fix.

“Policing, unfortunately, because of the nature of the role, will always attract individuals who love power and who want to abuse power. Thankfully only a small number of them get through vetting,” he said.

Each force is responsible for vetting its own recruits, and there is a minimum standard provided by the College of Policing’s Code of Practice.

But there isn’t a legal requirement to follow this, so what, if anything, is done differently by various forces?

“What could be different is that some historical issues that an applicant might have could be considered differently by one force to another,” the PCC said.

He added that his vetting to be a special constable took around six months, and included some “intrusive” questions.

“We actually have more people fail vetting because they do not disclose information, rather than by what’s put on their application,” the PCC said.

“The system does actually work, I know that there were about 25 or so people who were due to start in the first control room training this month.

“And about half of those applicants did not get through vetting.”

The PCC added that he is worried about the media’s “negative narrative” about policing. I want us to be proud of our police force, I really want us to be proud of our police officers,” he said.

“I wish the public can see what officers do on a day-to-day basis, every day they are making decisions that could save someone’s life.

“They all wish that they could do more, I wish I could do more but we’ve got so much resource and X amount of crime. I just wish that more people can see what these officers do, the outcomes they are achieving.

“If they did, they’d be very very proud of them. Police officers and staff want to keep our community safe, but they just can’t be everywhere all the time.

“But the more the public supports the police, the more successful police can become. The police without the public cannot be successful, and the public without the police cannot be kept safe. We both need each other,” he said.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter