Commissioner hits back following MP’s comments about rising crime in ‘poorly policed’ Leighton Buzzard

PCC Kathryn Holloway
PCC Kathryn Holloway

“You won’t find me trying to hide behind (crime) figures.”

That’s the frank message from Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, who’s acknowledged crime is going up.

Andrew Selous MP

Andrew Selous MP

But she told a Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel meeting at Borough Hall, Bedford on Tuesday it’s partly because there are new crimes, such as cyber stalking, which didn’t exist five years ago.

She took Conservative South West Bedfordshire MP Andrew Selous to task over his recent comments about policing in Leighton Buzzard.

He called for the restoration of the police cover his constituency area used to have before October 2012, “given the sharp increase in crime in the affected towns and villages”.

In a recent letter to the Chief Constable and the PCC, Mr Selous said: “I will continue to fight for a fairer budget for Bedfordshire Police overall, but I also have a duty to scrutinise the allocation of the force’s budget.” [Full story here]

But the PCC said she attends strategic governance board meetings every month where issues, such as rising crime, are put to the force, and she ensures “they tell you what they are doing in terms of each area”.

Mr Selous was asking for a police response function in Leighton Buzzard, but she questioned his comparison with the situation in Avon and Somerset.

“Even though there are officers based at the town’s fire station, he wants police officers in Leighton Buzzard,” she said.

“He points to Avon and Somerset Police and to look at the way they are dealing with it.

“But they lose 40 per cent of their resource into the largest urban area, which is Bristol.”

The panel was told that some crimes, such as burglary and robbery, are down compared to ten years ago.

“You have to deal with crime types in a clever way,” she said. “You can’t do everything without the NHS, for example, telling us the wounding figures coming into accident and emergency.

“It’s difficult to get information out of the NHS, but we need to know.

“If organisations are doing things in individual information silos, we can’t get everything we want,” she added.

“In the aftermath of their troubles, there was a march on the streets of Tottenham, with the message: ‘Our boys, our community, our responsibility’.

“Communities have to own themselves. It’s asking what are we going to do about it?”

Mrs Holloway has invited a national team to come to Bedfordshire first to see families who have lost relatives through gang culture.