Bedfordshire’s top cop, Chief Constable Garry Forsyth, has said he has the “best job in the world” while reflecting on his first 12 months in charge of Bedfordshire Police.
“I’m blown away every day, without fail, at the stories I hear about the lengths we have gone to in order to keep people safe.
“The extraordinary things we have done for the public and each other,” said the Chief Constable.
It’s been quite a year for the Chief Constable, dominated by coronavirus, but Mr Forsyth consistently pointed to the ‘amazing’ response of officers and staff and local people.
“It is hard to express the level of pride you feel when leading an organisation like that. It really is the best job in the world.”
Mr Forsyth also talked about “a year with many, and varied, challenges” highlighting how the force has “had to flip on a sixpence and adapt at pace to keep the public safe.”
“That has been enormously challenging,” he said.
As you’d expect, coronavirus has also created barriers for the Chief Constable to engage with the public in a normal manner. “I’ve missed that personal interaction,” he added.
“But overall the partnership effort has been really important – there are so many examples of how we are working effectively with our communities to protect people.”
An example of those partnerships was the successful completion of a year-long operation with multiple agencies and the local community to tackle drugs and anti-social behaviour in Bedford.
In a first for Bedfordshire Police, officers secured a partial closure order on an entire block of flats in a joint operation with housing association bpha and Bedford Borough Council.
This followed the UK’s largest ever operation to combat serious and organised crime, which resulted in more than 90 kilos of Class A drugs, seven firearms and £88,000 in cash seized.
Meanwhile the force’s specialist guns and gangs unit has been working to reduce serious youth violence.
Through proactive seizures and arrests Bedfordshire Police have seen a nine per cent reduction in serious youth violence in the county in the 12 months to March.
They say that translates to around 200 fewer victims.
We are continuing to grow the force
“I’m really pleased about the work we have done to dismantle organised criminality to protect vulnerable people across Bedfordshire and beyond.
“That is a real focus for the force, and our partnerships, and there is a lot more to come.
“A key part of that is through how we police and engage with our communities. I’m really pleased that we are continuing to grow the force – bringing in extra officers to boost our front line, where the public wants to see them most.”
In such a varied year in the role, it would be difficult for most to choose a moment that will stick in their mind the most, but Mr Forsyth says there are two he’ll look back on fondly.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have had a broad range of experiences across my 26 year career to date,” he said.
“But two of my lasting memories have come in the last few months. One was the pleasure of meeting Captain Tom Moore, and thanking him on behalf of the emergency services.
“The second was recording bedtime stories, an initiative to reach out to young people on social media during lockdown.
“Both were things I never imagined I would be doing at the start of the year, but are examples of tremendous human spirit and innovation during what were undoubtedly dark times for so many.”