Bedfordshire Police are about 300 officers short of the number needed to help cut crime in the county, a public meeting heard last night (May 16).
Despite 140 new recruits over the next year that figure will be reduced by the number of retirements, according to Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire.
“If I had more police officers they would be out on the estates” patrolling, she told a public meeting called after a spate of knife crime in Luton.
“We’re funded as a rural force, but with the challenges we have in Luton we need more money,” she said.
“Our Chief Constable has gone over and above (what’s expected) in stating the case for Bedfordshire to get more funding.
“We’re about 300 officers short of what we require,” she added. “But we’re using our resources as effectively as we can.”
Police are expected to target gangs after the recent stabbings which have left two men dead.
The county police force tweeted today (Thurs 17th) that 2,500 knives have been placed in weapons bins around Bedfordshire since October.
Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire reassured local residents that the force will review its stop and search procedures and ensure each one is lawful.
“There needs to be reasonable grounds for a search,” she explained.
“Sometimes you can smell drugs if someone is carrying them, but it’s a harder issue to detect if someone is carrying a knife.”
About 300 people attended last night’s meeting in Future’s House, Marsh Farm attended by the police, the local community and Luton Borough Council.
It was thought only 30 residents would be there, and it was agreed to arrange a further meeting in a month’s time.
The Assistant Chief Constable said: “We need more of these meetings. We’re only just starting to hear things.
“We need collective responsibility. It’s not all about the police. We can only solve this if we work together.”
An independent advisory group is being introduced to give young people a voice with the police, she added.
Council leader and Labour Lewsey councillor Hazel Simmons told the meeting that more skills and training for young people is needed locally.
She referred to “a corporate failure” by organisations in the past to help them sufficiently.