Bedfordshire Police says there has already been a huge show of public support for a petition calling for more Government funding.
Police and Crime Commissioner Olly Martins and Chief Constable Jon Boutcher say they are thrilled by the early response from residents across the county
The electronic petition, launched just a few days ago, has already attracted more than 4,300 signatures – meaning it’s well on its way to achieving its 10,000 target to ensure the Government responds to the petition. At 100,000 signatures, the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament.
Mr Martins has urged the public to spread news of the petition among family and friends, via word of mouth, telephone and social media, so as many people as possible get the opportunity to sign.
He has emphasised that Bedfordshire Police has just 169 police officers per 100,000 population against the England and Wales average of 232 and 388 in the Metropolitan Police.
He added: “We have to make it completely plain to the Government that we as a county really value our police force and are not prepared to sit back and see it jeopardised by an unrealistic level of funding.
“The force has bent over backwards to make efficiencies, best use of technology and collaborations with neighbouring forces and partners, but there is a limit as to how much further we can go. We have been cut to the bone.”
Mr Boutcher added he was “overwhelmed” by the initial support shown by the public, saying it highlights an increasing public understanding of the position the force finds itself in.
He warned that with more cuts looming, he fears the force will become unsustainable and be unable able to deliver some services or respond to incidents in the way it currently does.
He said: “Bedfordshire Police has a proud tradition of protecting the public and fighting crime, together. It means a lot to me, my officers, staff and volunteers to see the public rallying around to fight our corner.
“Bedfordshire may be a small county, but it is incredibly complex to police. We have an international airport, busy road network and some of the highest levels of gun crime, knife crime and serious acquisitive crime in the country and a level of terrorism that is only matched by Metropolitan forces, yet have one of the lowest rates of officers per head of population.”
The PCC launched the petition after a letter from Policing Minister Mike Penning which outlined proposed “refinements” to the way in which central Government policing budgets will be allocated to forces.
Under the proposal Bedfordshire, which has long argued it has been unfairly treated by the funding formula, is set to receive no additional funds. By contrast many larger forces, with far more reserves, will.
Sign the petition here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/110333
Last week we reported how Bedfordshire’s beleagured police force ‘requires improvement’ according to a latest inspection. HM Inspectorate of Constabulary said the force is struggling to meet the public’s needs in some important areas of policing.
The force has also been under pressure from leading Leighton councillors over the announcement that the town’s police enquiry office could be closed to the public under money-saving measures.
Figures presented to the town council’s police liaison committee on October 19 show that between July 1 and September 30 there were 129 more offences recorded than the same period in 2014.