Bedfordshire Police has been rated as ‘Requires Improvement’ in its latest inspection.
The rating is a step up from its last inspection in March when it was the only police force in the country to be rated ‘Inadequate’ - the lowest rating.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) gave the force an overall grading of ‘requires improvement’ for efficiency, which was in line with the previous inspection – but the HMICFRS commented on the progress the force has made in this area over the past 12 months, including rating it ‘good’ in the way it used its resources.
It also commended the force for its ‘pioneering’ approach to recruiting officers from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.
These are the third annual efficiency reports to examine how well police forces in England and Wales understand demand, use their resources and plan for the future. Two forces were graded as ‘outstanding’, 32 as ‘good’, ten forces as ‘requiring improvement’ and no force as ‘inadequate’.
The HMICFRS described policing across England and Wales as being ‘under significant stress’ with an increase in complex challenges against a backdrop of limited finances.
The report was based on a week-long inspection in June.
Deputy Chief Constable Garry Forsyth said: “We are obviously disappointed with the overall grading but it is pleasing that the report recognises the continued hard work and determination of the force to keep people safe and there are a lot of positives to take from the findings. The HMICFRS fully recognises the ‘significant financial challenges’ we face in Bedfordshire and makes reference to the difficult decisions we have to make around moving staff to our priority areas – which is to protect vulnerable people. However it is frustrating the report fails to take into consideration the wider context of challenges the force faces in its overall determination.
“It is also important to note that we have made further progress since this inspection that already addresses some of the areas identified for improvement – including populating the community policing model which was described as a weakness in the report. Since June we have seen a 40 per cent increase in staffing in community policing and we are hopeful the model will now be fully staffed by early 2018 which will make a big difference to our ability to deal with local issues.
“It was also very encouraging to be graded as ‘good’ for the way we use our limited resources – and is a clear indication that we would be more effective at tackling crime and keeping people safe should we be adequately funded for the complex crime challenges we face here in Bedfordshire.”