Monthly column: There have been improvements but Bedfordshire Police can be better

Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Festus Akinbusoye
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Festus Akinbusoye

Every week, the Bedford Independent brings you a column from one of our political leaders. These are currently from the Mayor, Bedford and Kempston MP, Council opposition, and now Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner.

These columns are published as we receive them and are a chance for those who represent us to update our readers on their work and what they are doing to make our area a better place to live work and play, and how they may be representing Bedford in national issues.

We’re really pleased to publish the first column from Festus Akinbusoye, the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner (Conservative), and look forward to many more from him and his office on their work and that of Bedfordshire Police.

The significant threats we face as a county from organised crime gangs, and some very dangerous individuals are real.

In 2022 £4.3m worth of cocaine and heroin were taken off our [Bedfordshire’s] streets, thanks to targeted investment by the government and the hard work of our officers.

However, despite these threats, there are some positives worth highlighting.

Firstly, a constant focus for me as your Commissioner has been to invest in community policing. Thanks to the buy-in of the Chief Constable, we now have more PCs in our Community Police Team than at any time in recent memory.

This team of 67 will also be increasing by 10 more officers in 2023/24. I have also protected the number of Police Community Support Officers, all of whom are part of our community team.

This is a marked turnaround from where we were before I came into office.

Secondly, greater priority is being given to domestic burglaries as we became one of the first forces in England and Wales to ensure a forensic police staff attends all such crimes.

The outcome of this focus is that Bedfordshire Police now has the highest burglary solve rates out of 43 police forces. It also means we are seeing fewer people become victims of burglary, as those convicted of burglaries tend to be repeat offenders.

Lastly, and as a broad overview of where the force is currently, the most recent inspection report by His Majesty’s Inspectorate rated Bedfordshire Police as ‘Outstanding’ in how well it managed the most persistent offenders, being the first ever force to achieve this rating in the country.

While the above is a far cry from the force formerly rated as ‘Inadequate’ just a few years ago, I am not satisfied with where we are.

I want Bedfordshire Police to be better at how well it handles public contact, retains police officers and staff; and investigates reported crimes.

These are areas I will keep working with Chief Constable Trevor Rodenhurst to deliver for our communities.

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.