Police postpone plans for Leighton Buzzard enquiry office

Leighton Buzzard Police Station in Hockliffe Road has closed
Leighton Buzzard Police Station in Hockliffe Road has closed

Beds Police has postponed plans to introduce an enquiry office in Leighton Buzzard, which would be open to the public.

On Wednesday, officers moved out of the former police station in Hockliffe Road to a new shared base at town’s fire station in Duncombe Drive.

Ch Insp Hob Hoque serves the Leighton Buzzard area

Ch Insp Hob Hoque serves the Leighton Buzzard area

The shared based, however, is not publicly accessible, but last year, upon announcing her policing vision, crime commissioner Kathryn Holloway revealed plans to re-open an enquiry office in the town, based in the Ambulance Station on Bassett Road.

At the time, she said members of the public would be asked if they would be willing to volunteer their time, assisting in the enquiry office.

But this week, when pressed on this proposal, a police spokesman said: “There are no plans for an enquiry office at this time.

“However the relocation is still in its early stages as the team only changed location on Wednesday, and we will continue to assess the need for this facility in the town as time goes on.”

The spokesman also clarified that the officers working out of the fire station shared base would be seven constables, four PCSOs and one sergeant, overseen by an area Inspector and Chief Inspector.

She added: “The number of officers serving Leighton Buzzard hasn’t changed, and they continue to focus on neighbourhood policing issues and work with partners to problem solve.

“The PCSOs, PCs and Sergeant are based in Leighton Buzzard and work predominantly in that area, but cover rural south Bedfordshire and are deployed to tackle issues in those parts of the county if they are required.

“Our Community Policing function is continuously reassessed and we do have officers and PCSOs based in Dunstable and Houghton Regis. As with all of the force, those resources will respond to demand and be deployed elsewhere if needed.

Town and Central Beds Councillor Amanda Dodwell, a member of the town council’s police liaison committee, is wary of Leighton Buzzard being let down again by the police.

She said: “Over recent weeks we have heard some bold statements from the Police and Crime Commissioner that a ‘new sheriff is in town’ and that they are to ‘really get a grip’ on crime in Leighton Buzzard.

“These are encouraging words, but as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

“On a positive note, I have seen police cars at Leighton Buzzard Fire Station, and the much hyped ‘new signage’ has appeared – if you look carefully. Therefore it may be safe to assume that the long promised move to Lake Street has now happened.

“Furthermore, it appears from social media that there has been an increased visible police presence in the town over the past few days, including a targeted operation against shop lifting. This is all very hopeful.

“However, social media has also been reporting a significant increase in vehicle crime and anti-social behaviour over the past week or so, and I know from speaking to one or two affected residents, that the response from Bedfordshire Police has been under whelming to say the least.

“My greatest concern is that Bedfordshire Police still seem unable to give a straight answer as to how many officers are now based in the town.

“Just last week we were told that the team based in Lake Street would include an Inspector.

“We are now being told that the team will be ‘overseen’ by an area Inspector. Furthermore, it would seem that the team is not dedicated to Leighton Buzzard, but will also cover ‘rural South Bedfordshire’.

“This is an area which extends as far as Barton-Le-Clay and Whipsnade.

“On the basis of the latest comments from Bedfordshire Police on the make up of the team in the town, I believe that the reality is that nothing has in fact changed in terms of resources allocated to the town.

“Over the past four years there have been countless promises to strengthen community policing.

“This has been identified as a major weakness by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary. At the moment, we are not seeing any evidence of ‘strengthening’, just ‘rearranging’. Put politely, it is all smoke and mirrors.”

Andrew Selous MP has been contacted by several constituents recently over policing concerns. He told the LBO: “I very much welcome the opening of the new police station collocated with the Fire and Rescue Service, on the 31st August.

“I remain concerned about the level of crime in Leighton Buzzard and would strongly encourage everyone to report every incident to the police. I will follow up any concerns constituents have in respect of the police response.”

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