The “staggering rate” at which officers are leaving Bedfordshire Police is a key concern of the county’s new Police and Crime Commissioner, a meeting heard.
Festus Akinbusoye, who succeeded Kathryn Holloway in the role following last month’s elections, wants to see the county force “doing a lot better in retaining the officers we’re recruiting“.
Attending a virtual Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel meeting, he also referred to the “real issues” which exist in Luton and to hearing from the National Crime Agency about “the scale of the challenge from organised crime gangs“.
He told the informal panel meeting: “I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to take on this role and to rely on the support of residents across our county.
“It was based on a strong message around what I hope to do as Police and Crime Commissioner.
“That involves ensuring that we should be doing much better in how well we’re preventing crime equally to how well we’re prosecuting and enforcing against offenders in Bedfordshire.
“My focus is to see us do a lot better retaining the officers we’re recruiting.
“We’ve been recruiting quite a large number in the county force during the last couple of years.
“What’s staggering to me is the rate at which we’re losing officers, and I’ve raised this informally with the Chief Constable and during my first strategic board meeting.
“That’s going to be on my radar,” the PCC explained. “Also I want to ensure we’re seeing a more effective and functional community policing strategy.
“I can’t tell the Chief Constable how many officers to deploy, but I can make him aware that the benefit from this uplift is felt across the county, whether in rural or urban areas.”
He expressed concerns around the community policing plan, while acknowledging there are some positive things in it.
“We’ll be following up on those at the next strategic board meeting because something residents want to see is more visible policing in their areas.
“We do have real issues in Luton. I can’t shy away from that.”
Referring to a briefing from the National Crime Agency concerning various data including “the threats faced“, Mr Akinbusoye added: “I have to confess it makes for very sobering reading and hearing about the scale of the challenge we face from organised crime gangs.
“But I still feel the basis of any effective and successful policing strategy will be how good our community policing is because that’s where the intelligence will come from.
“And that’s where the legitimacy and the trust in the policing will come as well.”
The police and crime plan, due to be published in August, sets out the strategic objectives of the PCC and his office team for Bedfordshire.
Residents will be invited to provide their feedback towards the plan during an official consultation period in July.
Seven initial areas have been highlighted:
- Supporting residents to have trust and confidence in Bedfordshire Police
- Representing the public voice to the county force and the criminal justice system
- Creating a perpetrator focus for crime reduction
- Ensuring appropriate resources for those affected by crime
- Establishing a financial future for Bedfordshire Police
- Ensuring the effectiveness and efficiency of the county police service
- Supporting the national picture for policing and justice
The PCC assured the panel he has no plans to take over the governance of Bedfordshire County Fire and Rescue Service, unless a mandate comes from government.