Council slams ‘24 Hours in Police Custody’ for damaging Luton’s reputation

Luton town hall
Luton town hall

The leader of Luton Borough Council has criticised Bedfordshire Police for being “complicit” in the making of ‘24 Hours in Police Custody’ and accused the programme of damaging Luton’s reputation.

In a statement on LBC’s website, council leader Cllr Hazel Simmons said: “We have had time to review the programme and are disappointed and concerned about how Luton has yet again been portrayed.”

After describing the hard work undertaken to tackle extremism, Cllr Simmons went on: “Luton is by and large a harmonious place, with an exciting regeneration and investment offer. Unfortunately, by conflating a range of complex issues, the programme will have a direct impact on the reputation of the town.

“While we are sympathetic to the reputational and performance challenges facing Bedfordshire Police, we are surprised the force has chosen to be complicit in the making of such a programme.”

Deputy Chief Constable Mark Collins responded: “We took the decision to take part in 24 Hours in the interests of legitimacy. We are accountable to the public and it is important we are completely transparent in everything we do. The programme gives the public unprecedented access to see how our officers and staff manage the day-to-day issues they are faced with.

“We were keen to also show the partnership working we undertake on a daily basis with other local authorities, however sadly Luton Borough Council chose not to be involved.

“Luton is a fantastic place to work, live and visit and has brilliant, diverse communities. However we do face a number of complex challenges and the programme gives an insight into the wide range of issues we face.

“The series has had viewing figures in excess of two million people each week and has generated a large amount of positive comments from members of the public and across the media.

“It is worth noting that we have never used the programme as a vehicle to lobby for extra funding and have no editorial control over its content – as this would go against the openness we seek to achieve.”