If elected Festus Akinbusoye will boost the community policing team
Festus Akinbusoye is the Conservative candidate for next year’s Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) election. PCCs are elected to represent residents’ views on policing and crime, to set their force’s strategic direction and to hold their constabulary to account.
They replaced police authorities in 2012, and Festus believes that the PCC role is more effective than the panel it replaced. He said:
“Bedfordshire needs a police and crime commissioner so residents have someone that they can directly hold accountable for how policing is delivered in their local area.”
However, they do not run police forces, as chief constables are responsible for the day to day operations of their forces.
Festus said that his main priority is to bring back policing into Bedfordshire’s communities, by working with the chief constable to boost the community policing team. He said:
“We are doing very well with our response teams and I saw this on the front line when I worked about 200 hours as a frontline response police officer.
“But we need to do a lot more in boosting a community policing team in terms of availability in rural communities, especially in a large market towns.”
This is part of Festus’s plan to build up the goodwill between residents and the police.
“I think my success [if elected] will be determined in part by the amount of funding that is available, but also by the amount of goodwill that I’m able to help Bedfordshire Police to secure in the community.
“If the level of community buy-in to community policing is low, the money will never be enough.”
However, goodwill is not just about seeing police officers in the community. Victims of crime, such as burglaries, can wait for days for someone to attend and weeks for updates. For example, if the investigating officer goes on rest days after contacting the victim.
Festus wants to use Police Contact Hubs, such as the one in Bedford, as a place where residents can report crime, give statements, follow up and to get updates. Without having to wait for the investigating officer to become available again.
The location of these will be based on demand and crime rates. The plan is to co-fund the £50,000 units with local authorities and town councils.
“These won’t be the answer for everything but they would be a good workable convenient answer to residents who find themselves in this situation.”
Festus is the Conservative party candidate, but there are no official PCC candidates until 25 days before the poll. So why is Festus campaigning so early?
“I’m not taking anything for granted. I believe that I have what it takes to help deliver the right level of policing in Bedfordshire but obviously this will come down to people’s votes.
“I do not want to wait until the election month before I start campaigning. It takes a lot of time to to engage with people and that can’t be done within a month. I want to get in as many hours as I can.”
Festus also pledges to be focused on tackling gun, gang and knife crime in Bedfordshire. As well as their causes, such as drug, alcohol and substance abuse. He said:
“I will be making some announcements in a couple of weeks about my strategy and vision for how we can take tackle illegal drugs and the crime that surrounds this in our county.”
The election for Bedfordshire’s PCC was due to be held in May, but it was postponed until 2021 due to the COVID pandemic.