Bedfordshire Police has issued its statement after a jury cleared a Leighton Buzzard father and son accused of shooting at an umarked police car.
On Tuesday, Richard and Bernard Baldwin were found not guilty of all charges including attempted murder following a trial at Luton Crown Court. Richard Baldwin’s wife Victoria was also cleared of assisting an offender.
The case has sparked fierce debate about policing in Leighton Buzzard, with a public meeting scheduled at Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre on Saturday, June 16.
Deputy Chief Constable Garry Forsyth stated: “Firstly, I’m grateful that what we are dealing with today is not a fatality or serious injury to any party involved in this case.
“This was a very serious incident which involved the repeated and deliberate discharge of a firearm in a public place, against individuals who were unknown and unidentified, who were entirely innocent and were in fact police officers responding to the reported crime.
“It is the job of the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to investigate alleged criminality and present evidence to a court to be tested by a jury.
“I respect the decision of the jury, however I do have concerns about how some people may choose to interpret this finding. Members of the public have a right to use lawful force to defend their property, providing it is both reasonable and proportionate, but people should think very carefully before taking any action themselves.
“I don’t underestimate how traumatic exposure to repeated criminality can be on victims of crime. We do everything we can to respond appropriately to reports of criminality across Bedfordshire on a daily basis.
“Police officers and staff put their lives on the line every day in order to protect the public. Had this incident resulted in the death of one of our officers, or a member of the public, I do not believe the jury would have chosen to interpret the reasonableness and proportionality in such a way.”
> The public meeting takes place at Leighton buzzard Library Theatre on Saturday, June 16, from 10am to 2pm. Two questions and answer sessions will be held at 11am and 1pm.
Det Supt Forsyth, Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire and South West Beds MP Andrew Selous will be in attendance along with other representatives of Beds Police and Leighton-Linslade Town Council.