Changes in £19m police reshuffle

BEDFORDSHIRE’s safer neighbourhood teams, brought in three years ago, are to be scrapped and replaced with three ‘local policing’ districts to cover the whole of the county.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 2nd October 2011, 5:00 pm

The reorganisation, which will cut costs at Bedfordshire Police by £19 million, will also see a new county-wide ‘response policing team’, equipped with new technology, tasked solely with attending emergencies.

From October 3, the county will be carved up into three local policing districts – Luton, Central Bedfordshire and Bedford Borough – each with their own chief inspector.

Luton will be led by Chief Insp Rob Bartlett, pictured, Central Bedfordshire by Chief Insp Neill Waring, and Bedford Borough by Chief Insp Rob McCaffray.

Locally-based PCSOs, under the supervision of an inspector and sergeant, will deal with community policing, providing the local point of contact for people to raise issues and concerns about their area.

The force says police officer numbers will be increased, with PCs dealing with anti-social behaviour, low-level crime and tackling crime hotspots. As part of the reorganisation the force says it is also going to increase the number of incidents resolved on the telephone, to reduce demand on front-line staff, and is introducing a new appointment system to resolve non-urgent issues.

The response policing team (RPT) will be led by Chief Insp John Harwood, and will operate out of bases in Bedford, Luton, Dunstable, Leighton Buzzard, Ampthill and Biggleswade.

A spokesman said the RPT would be “the first point of contact for the public in an emergency situation, making the first arrest, securing any crime scene and preserving vital evidence as well as undertaking the critical ‘golden hour’ of investigation”.The team will be equipped with an automatic vehicle location system, which links a GPS facility to the force’s command and control system, enabling operators to view the ‘real time’ locations of police vehicles and their crews.

The system takes into account features such as speed limits and geographical obstacles and identifies the most suitably trained officers, which the force says will improve response times and officer safety. When not attending emergencies, the team will carry out normal patrols.

Chief Constable Alf Hitchcock said: “We are very clear that our priority is to fight crime and protect the public. By putting the right people in the right place at the right time we will maintain and improve the quality of the services that matter most to local people. “We are taking a tougher, more planned and consistent approach to targeting certain persistent criminals and specific crimes. We are using our limited resources more wisely.”