Accountability and transparency are key says Bedfordshire's new police and crime commissioner as he pledges to be 'accessible to councils'

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Joint working is essential to help boost community policing in Bedfordshire and restore public trust in the local force, according to the county’s new Police and Crime Commissioner.

Accountability and transparency are key themes for Labour’s John Tizard, who was elected to the role earlier this month.

Invited to speak to Luton Borough Council’s scrutiny crime and disorder committee, he recalled spending more than 18 years as a councillor in Bedfordshire.

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Mr Tizard described local government as “absolutely the cornerstone of our democratic system to represent local people and communities, and to hold to account all of us, whether we’re elected or appointed as public officials”.

Bedfordshire's new PCC John Tizard (r) and the chief constable Trevor Rodenhurst (l) Image: Bedfordshire PoliceBedfordshire's new PCC John Tizard (r) and the chief constable Trevor Rodenhurst (l) Image: Bedfordshire Police
Bedfordshire's new PCC John Tizard (r) and the chief constable Trevor Rodenhurst (l) Image: Bedfordshire Police

Although accountable to the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel, he explained: “I want to be accessible to the three local authorities and indeed the town and parish councils. So here, Central Bedfordshire and Bedford borough.

“I made it clear in my manifesto, my principle accountability must be to the electors of Bedfordshire through the police and crime panel, but I want to be openly accessible to scrutiny panels and full councils.

“The police on their own can’t work in isolation. It has to be a partnership. One of those main partnerships is between the police and the local authorities.

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“And there are relationships with business, community organisations, faith groups and the residents. We all have a contribution to make to prevent, address and reduce crime, as well as hold those responsible for breaking the law to account.

“It would be great if we could do much more prevention and avoid anyone getting trapped into the system, particularly young people.

“I’m aware of some of the issues in Luton of young people getting drawn into knife crime and other heinous crimes, while ruining not only society but their own prospects as well.

“The key issues are how do we improve community and neighbourhood policing. That’s not just about having more visibility on the streets, important as those police officers and PCSOs are,” he said. “It’s about how we create that partnership between the community and the police.

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“How do we have the community feeding into the police, feeling confident in them and having access to them, with joint advisory groups to identify the issues?

“Community policing is really important because it’s the source of trust for the public. It’s dealing with the issues, such as anti-social behaviour and drug-related crime on the street, but it’s also about intelligence for the wider issues in policing.

“Serious crime, such as fraud and cyber crime, is increasing in the county. This weekend there’s been too much violence, including sadly against police officers in the county.

“There’s also how we protect vulnerable groups, with the impact of modern day slavery, trafficking and sexual exploitation across Bedfordshire and beyond.

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“Part of my role is coordinating the wider criminal justice system, the Crown Prosecution Service, the probation service, the prison service and other aspects contributing to that.

“Above all it’s about accountability and transparency,” he added. “I want to be very much part of the fabric of the democratic system.”