Conservative PCC criticises Lib Dems’ “misleading narratives” ahead of elections

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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 has issued a “strong and robust” response to burglary solve rate claims published by local Lib Dems.

Yesterday, the Bedford Borough Liberal Democrats said the Conservatives were “asleep at the wheel” on tackling community crime.

They said “damning” new revelations show that almost all burglaries in Bedfordshire go unpunished.

Their analysis of official Home Office data showed that between 1 January and 30 September last year, there were  1,239 recorded outcomes for domestic burglary offences.

And just 49 (four per cent) cases resulted in a criminal charge or summons, resulting in Bedfordshire Police having the “fifth worst” solve rate in the country.

The local Lib Dems “slammed” the government and the Conservative police and crime commissioner (PCC) for these “stark figures”.

Commissioner Festus Akinbusoye said: “I recognise that an election is round the corner, hence the misinformation from some candidates and political parties.

“This is very unfortunate.

“The facts are, and based on latest Home Office data, Bedfordshire Police has the highest solve rate for domestic burglaries in England and Wales and our chief constable is on record quoting this at public meetings.

“The force was also one of the first police areas in the country to make sure a forensics staff attended all domestic burglaries.

“We have seen domestic burglaries falling in Bedfordshire below pre-pandemic levels as well, and I thank our dedicated, nationally recognised Op MAZE team for their work in this area,” he said.

The borough’s Lib Dems also called for a return to “proper” community policing, with visible police officers with the time to focus on preventing and solving crimes, so that criminals “can no longer act with impunity”.

The PCC said: “On Community Policing, it is unfortunate that clearly, due to electioneering, misleading narratives are once again being published by campaigners.

“Since I was elected as PCC under two years ago, there has been an increase in the number of dedicated community police constables to its highest levels ever, with more than 60 PCs.

“This number is increasing by 10 officers in 2023/24, the number of PCSOs are also being maintained under my watch; not reduced, as they are integral to my community policing priority,” he said.

“Bedfordshire Police has seen an 11 per cent increase in total number of officers since 2010, and is now set to eclipse its previous record of officers by March 2023, reaching 1,456 PCs.

“This is the highest number of police officers in Bedfordshire Police ever, and the number is increasing.

“Our force is benefiting from the Government’s 20,000 uplift as we have exceeded our recruitment target each year of the recruitment program.

“Despite the recent HMICFRS inspection assessing Bedfordshire Police as one of the best-performing forces in England and Wales, I nevertheless acknowledge, there is a lot more work to do in cutting crime, preventing harm and retaining police officers in Bedfordshire.

“I am fully committed to working with the chief constable in delivering these,” he said.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter