Bedfordshire’s police and crime commissioner (PCC), Festus Akinbusoye has said that the fall in burglaries in the county was due to targeted policing and not just Covid and lockdowns.
Figures released by Bedfordshire Police in December said on average there were around 34 fewer residential burglaries every month across Bedfordshire in 2021 compared to the previous year.
It added that by 22 December, three people had been charged in connection to 14 burglaries across the county.
“I know people were saying ‘well, it’s all because of lockdown’ or Covid and that kind of stuff,” the PCC said.
“What really gets my goat, is when some people do or say things that potentially undermines the incredible genuine work that officers are doing to actually cut crime.
“Because there’ll always be another explanation that they try to say is the cause of it, and that’s fair enough.
“But here’s the thing, overall, burglaries have been going down even before Covid, but when Covid started, it turns out that burglars are also scared of Covid, as are drug dealers.
“So all crime fell, generally speaking, during lockdown because everybody was staying indoors.
“Admittedly, that did help see a precipitous fall in the number of burglaries, I get that, but Covid had nothing whatsoever to do with the detection rate and solve rate.
“That is purely down to the work of officers who were focusing on making sure that the SOCO (Scenes of Crime Officer) officers went to every single burglary. That’s something that the force decided was what they were going to do.
“And what they found was that it was the same group of people, a small core of people who were doing the thieving.
“So it wasn’t entirely Covid, but Covid did have a part to play in it, but they [police staff and officers] were able to match pretty much all of the video footage that they were able to get their hands on with the faces of a lot of these individuals and they got caught. There was only one person’s face that couldn’t be matched.
“When we’re talking about detection rate and solve rate, it was down to the work of these police staff and police officers who specifically targeted that and that’s down to the chief and his team for actually dedicating resources to that, for that’s quite a personal crime, someone has come into you home, ransacked it, it’s quite a high impact crime.
“Yes, Covid helped overall numbers to drop, but Covid had little to do with the detection rates and the solve rates increasing.”
The public can understand the extra work that the force is doing with burglaries would have an effect, but residents expect that someone from the police would come out if they have been burgled anyway – if you actually visit a crime scene then you stand a chance of catching the criminals.
The PCC said: “Police catch criminals, well, you’re supposed to do that anyway. Police do a stop and search and find a knife, well, you’re supposed to do that anyway.
“Well, yes, they could be doing a lot of things, but they’re not doing it because you can’t have a police officer in every single street in Bedfordshire.
“I just caught up this morning with one of my staff to check out the call volume in the control room, already halfway through this month they have already had 5,000 calls on 999s alone, we’ve never had a period where this many calls coming to the force control room, ever, constantly over a period of time.
“So the call volumes are going through the roof, 101 calls are going through the roof, police officers numbers are not keeping up with the volume of demand, and yet the public are saying they should be doing that anyway.
“Actually I give them [police officers] credit for every little success they get, I’m never going to say ‘that’s your job anyway, so you want a pat on the back for doing your job?’
“There’s just a lot of cynicism in the public about what these guys and girls are doing and I would dare any one of them to come and spend a 24 hour period with one of our teams and see how they get along,” he added.
by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter