Leighton-Linslade Town Council ramps up challenge to Beds Police over 'thinly scattered' officers

Leighton Buzzard's community policing team is based at the fire station
Leighton Buzzard's community policing team is based at the fire station

Leighton-Linslade Town Council is ramping up its challenge to Beds Police over the “thinly scattered” number of police officers keeping people safe in the south west of the county.

Last month, the town council wrote to Chief Constable Garry Forsyth to air its concerns over the perceived lack of local policing.

In response, the force has announced Detective Chief Superintendant David Boyle will attend the next full town council meeting on January 27, 2020, to discuss the police model for the town.

News of the visit comes amid rumours Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Kathryn Holloway plans to step down from her role at next year’s election, with the local Conservative Party already said to be profiling potential candidates.

The LBO has been given a summary of the town council’s letter:

> The town council commended the community policing team for its “outstanding” work but residents have lost confidence in the police service given the perceived lack of visibility of officers.

> The community policing team are expected to cover a huge geographical area from Barton-Le-Clay to Caddington and over to Leighton-Linslade. Overstretched resources are to the public so “thinly scattered to the point of being ineffective”, with “a significant proportion of a shift having to go to custody in Luton”.

> In the opinion of the parish, policing numbers are not enough for an ever-expanding population which has increased by over a third in the past 10 years and will continue to grow as more houses are built.

> The parish shares the same concerns as the outlying parishes regarding rural crime issues. The town council will continue to do what it can to lobby for additional policing resources

> Accessing a point of police presence – currently housed in the fire station – is not acceptable and does little to foster public confidence.

In response, Beds Police stated that the policing model they currently operate works within the financial constraints they have to operate.

The force said it remained committed to community policing and it is expected that policing resources will increase over the coming three to four years as more officers are recruited and subsequently trained.

Last week, the commissioner announced the force had been given government funding to recruit an extra 54 officers in Bedfordshire.

The recruits will join during 2020-21, and are in addition to the 40 new officers which will be funded by an increase in council tax, as well as those being hired to fill existing vacancies.

> What do you think of the situation? Email news@lbobserver.co.uk.