Bedfordshire’s police and crime commissioner stands by his comment that he does not want police officers to provide a taxi service or to be “child-minding” when other services aren’t doing their job.
Following a recent social media post by the PCC, Cllr Gareth Mackey (Central Bedfordshire, Independent) asked at the Police & Crime Commission Panel (Wednesday, May 25) if the Inspectors were wrong in grading how Bedfordshire Police uses its resources as ‘good’.
“I just want to look at protecting vulnerable people – marked as “Inadequate’ – and how it relates to the good use of resources, which is marked as ‘Good’,” councillor Mackey said.
“In a social media post a little while ago, you said that you felt that in some cases the police was acting as taxi services and childminders when moving vulnerable young people out of the county.
“Do you have a different view then about how [the police] protects vulnerable people in our area?
“And do you think that the report was wrong then in that perspective by saying that [the force] uses its resources well,” he asked.
The PCC, Festus Akinbusoye replied: “I was elected as the police and crime commissioner for Bedfordshire with the aim of delivering efficient and effective policing of the county.
“I do not believe it is right and proper that police officers would be expected to sit, in the absence of other agencies being available, with a teenager for tens of hours.
“I don’t think it’s right either that three police officers had to transport a young person out of the county.
“When I come to Flitwick people quite rightly say to me ‘well, Festus, where are the police officers? We don’t see them’.
“‘I’m paying my precepts, where are all these cops?’
“I do agree with the HMI report in terms of the effectiveness of resources that these police officers do the job regardless, they won’t say no because that’s what they do, and everybody knows that,” he said.
“But in the long term is that what we want our police officers in Bedfordshire to be doing?
“I don’t think it is what we want them to be doing.
“I stand by my comment that I do not want Bedfordshire Police officers to provide a taxi service or for them to be child-minding when other services should do their job.
“I’ve got to say this councillor Mackey, this has basically been going on for decades.
“This has got to stop because it is having a direct impact on the ability of [the chief constable] and his men and women to keep our county safer,” he said.
Councillor Mackey replied: “It’s very clear that the police are doing an absolutely incredible job in dealing with people in a very vulnerable position.
“To me it just seems that the words taxi service and child-minding are perhaps poorly chosen.
“Because it seems to trivialise the absolutely fantastic job the police are doing and the importance of them carrying that out because of failures in other areas.”
by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter