The Bedfordshire Community Scrutiny Panel is made up of lay people, and it holds the police to account for how they use their powers including stop and search and use of force.
It has recently appointed two new vice chairs; Martin White and Hina Shafi.
Hina Shafi has a BA (honours) in Sports Development and Physical Education, and experience in mental health, policy and community engagement.
Martin White is a retired lawyer and former police officer. He has lived in Bedfordshire for 38 years. In 2009, he became an officer in the Bedfordshire Special Constabulary, undertaking front line duties, and advancing to sergeant and tutor.
Stop and search is a controversial tool and causes a lot of tensions. One of the roles of the panel is to ensure ‘stop and search’ is used effectively and any force used is necessary and proportionate.
“The Panel is of particular importance given the need for independent community overview to address disparities and non-compliance in the way certain police powers are exercised.
“In my time with the Panel I have seen an improvement in police training and greater compliance on the part of officers with the law and guidance affecting the processes within the Panels areas of concern.
“There is still a way to go and a lot more work to be done but hopefully progress will continue for the benefit of both the community and the police, who are also part of the community, in terms of trust and respect.”
“If I can work with others to improve relationships between the police and local people, we should, together, be able to make a positive change.
“This can be achieved by ensuring that police officers use their powers in a fair, compliant, and unbiased manner. The scrutiny panel allows individuals from the community to review stop and search body worn footages and discuss what went well and how the officer can improve.
“The overwhelming majority of Officers are keen to hear from the panel members and take our recommendations on board. On the community side many people are keen to understand their rights and to know how stop and search should be conducted.”
Montell Neuville, the panel’s chair, said:
“Vice chairs bring their own lived experiences, contacts and perspectives to community scrutiny of policing.
“I’m really pleased that we have two very passionate people with a wealth of experience in their own specialist areas, who can support me and the rest of the panel in being critical friends of the police helping to ensure our officers act with honesty, with respect and with impartiality.
“Our new vice chairs will help to ensure we have greater transparency which in itself will build trust and confidence between the police and the community we represent.”
More information on the Bedfordshire Community Scrutiny Panel can be found here.