I am delighted that the government approved my application for a £6m Special Grant to tackle the growing threat of organised crime gangs in our county. This is in addition to the increase in core funding in 2023/24.
Latest government figures show Bedfordshire Police as having the biggest fall in residential burglaries at 58% I very much welcome this significant fall which has meant that there are 400 fewer victims of this invasive crime in our county.
But I want the force to do better by expanding the remit of the dedicated residential burglary team to also include all burglaries.
This will be a very tall order to achieve as the resource demand will be significant, while our county continues to face real challenges from organised crime gangs (OCGs).
The latter is an area also where Bedfordshire Police is excelling.
Thanks to the extra funding through Special Grants, the force is currently the best in the Eastern Region for the disruption of OCGs and in the top six nationwide. For a force that is poorly funded due to the funding formula as it is, this is the force that is punching well above its weight, despite the areas of improvement that remain a challenge.
In the year to March 2023, Bedfordshire Police seized 23kg of cocaine and heroin, and 6,500 cannabis plants worth an estimated £4.3m. A recent single haul of nearly 170kg of cocaine worth nearly £20m was seized a few weeks ago in Toddington by Bedfordshire Police in partnership with our Eastern Region collaboration force partners.
These drugs would have no doubt ended up on the streets of our villages, market towns and urban areas, bringing along the misery and violence that usually attend them. I commend our officers and staff for their continued dedication.
That said, I will always be straight with our residents.
I remain concerned as to the impact of call volumes on call response times and the turnaround time for providing feedback to members of the public.
This is an area of critical concern and was the subject of my most recent one-to-one with the Chief Constable. I am reassured by both the short and longer-term arrangements he is putting in place to address the control room issue.
Without question, for me, this is an area which has proven much more challenging than we had all anticipated as the national labour shortage also affects policing as well.
That said, I remain fully committed to working with the Chief Constable to improve call response times and the quality of service for our residents.
We have a fantastic and motivated team of police staff who are dealing with more and more calls. However, we need more of them and I am pleased with the recent growth in their numbers.
This is a monthly guest column provided by Festus Akinbusoye,
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner (Conservative).
It is published unedited and does not reflect
the views of the Bedford Independent.