Frustration over lack of consistency in tracking number of police officers in Bedfordshire

Police on the beat
Image: Brian A Jackson/Shutterstock

Bedfordshire Police has not been consistent in reporting how officers are allocated in community teams which makes it “frustrating” when tracking numbers, a meeting heard.

The Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel held an extraordinary meeting yesterday (7 November) to debate the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s (OPCC) response to questions raised by a member of the public.

OPCC chief executive, Anna Villette, told the panel: “I think that part of the difficulty we have ended up in with this particular member of the public is that people have used numbers that don’t necessarily flow from one day to the next, let alone one year to the next.

“Too many people have talked about so many different numbers. Were rural crimes included in some of the numbers? Well, they were one year and they weren’t the next.

“Were officers based at Luton Airport included in the numbers? Well, they were sometimes, and they weren’t sometimes. I share those frustrations that we weren’t consistent with our definitions of different units of police officers.

“I think that a lot of difficulty has arisen where we haven’t been comparing apples with apples, and in some cases, we haven’t even been comparing apples with pears,” she said.

Committee vice-chair Mr Lee Melville pointed out that community policing was one of the police and crime commissioner’s key pledges.

But the number of community officers is not meeting the targets, despite the “highest number of officers in the force at any time”.

Ms Villette said: “I know that the commissioner is committed to making sure that the number of officers operating in our communities is as high as it can possibly be. But he obviously has to balance that against the other demands on the force.

“And actually it’s the chief constable’s responsibility to make sure that the deployment of resources goes to where those resources are needed,” she said.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter

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