Police report says Beds force could do better

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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.

HMIC spokesman Zoe Billingham said: “The force has achieved all the savings required to date, but in doing so it has reduced its capacity to respond to the demands on its services.”

She went on: “The force has identified that, as part of past cost-cutting measures, it has reduced its police officer strength to a level that is insufficent to meet either current or future demand for police services.”

And she also raised fears about the future.

“There is a significant amount of change planned over the next two years. Although Bedfordshire Police recognises the risks involved, HMIC is concerned that the force will struggle to maintain an acceptable level of service to the public as the changes are implemented.

“Because of the risks and uncertainties surrounding its future plans, HMIC remains concerned that Bedfordshire Police’s future financial position is not sustainable for the long term.”

But she added: “The force has improved its understanding of the demands on its services, although it still needs to do further work in order to make the most efficient use of police time, and more effectively plan for the future.”

Bedfordshire is one of eight out of 43 forces which received a ‘requires improvement. It is the second year it has received this rating.

Only one, Humberside, received an ‘inadequate’ rating.

This month the force announced it was entering consultation to reduce the number of PCSOs and intelligence staff.

And this week Beds Police and Crime Commissioner Olly Martins launched a petition calling for a Government change in funding for the county.

He says Bedfordshire is funded as a rural area yet its police face complex issues including threats to national security, the effects of serious and organised crime, and a high level of burglary androbberies.