Poor policing in Leighton Buzzard is a ‘misconception’ says assistant chief constable

The damage at Wilko
The damage at Wilko

There is a “misconception” that Leighton Buzzard is not policed properly, according to Beds Police’s Assistant Chief Constable.

The LBO spoke to ACC Jackie Sebire to discuss the shocking rise of knife crime in the county – up 86% since 2014 – with two young men killed in Luton in as many months.

ACC Jackie Sebire

ACC Jackie Sebire

ACC Sebire said that she had reviewed the policing arrangements in Leighton Buzzard and was satisfied that the town is adequately resourced.

She said: “I think that there is a misconception that Leighton Buzzard isn’t policed properly.”

ACC Sebire also refuted the claim it takes the emergency response team up to ten minutes to drive from Dunstable.

Last Friday saw a wave of police activity in the town following an attempted ram raid at Wilko in High Street. Although the shop front was severely damaged, the offenders were unable to gain access to the store.

It is thought the incident may be linked to a green BMW reportedly driven by yobs which caused mayhem, with one resident describing being nearly run over. The car was later recovered by police.

Cllr Amanda Dodwell said: “I think ACC Sebire is rather missing the point.

“I am sure that in the view of the senior management of Bedfordshire Police, they have put in place adequate arrangements to police Leighton Buzzard.

“However, the key word there is ‘adequate’, or in other words, ‘the bare minimum’.”

The community policing hub in the fire station is currently serviced with one sergeant, seven PCs and four PCSOs.

Cllr Dodwell added: “ACC Sebire needs to look at the issue from the perspective of the someone living on one of the estates where vehicle crime is a nightly occurrence, or town centre shoppers who see the same faces week after week causing a nuisance, or the residents who live with constant reports of their neighbours being burgled.

“And all of these stories often have the same ending – ‘we reported it to the police and they weren’t interested’.

“These are all problems that have been ongoing for some time, and to date there is no obvious police action against the offenders.

“We keep hearing that all calls are screened according the ‘threat, harm, risk and investigative opportunity’ – this model gives a green light to the perpetrators of low level crime and anti-social behaviour to carry on, with little chance of arrest.

“Whilst nobody would claim that the recent crimes in Leighton Buzzard are on a par with stabbings and murder in Luton, the crimes we are seeing here are causing a lot of misery, but because there is rarely an immediate ‘threat’ or ‘risk of harm’, there is no police response.

“And as for ‘investigative opportunity’, by the time officers arrive from Dunstable the perpetrators are half-way up the A5 to Milton Keynes – and I would stick to the claim that it takes more than 10 minutes to get from Dunstable to Leighton Buzzard. Indeed, the force’s own figures for 2016 show an average response time of over 27 minutes to 999 calls across Bedfordshire as a whole. It is inconceivable that officers are able to travel the 7 miles from Dunstable to Leighton Buzzard in under 10 minutes.”

“ACC Sebire refers to the ‘misconception’ that Leighton Buzzard is not policed properly.

“If she genuinely believes that it is a problem of perception, I hope that she will come along to the Police engagement event planned for next month, and that she will address the concerns of local residents.

“If it is indeed a problem of perception, then she needs to give the residents some significant reassurances that the Police are taking the problems in Leighton Buzzard seriously and that we will see some evidence of the ‘adequate’ policing that she believes is in place.

“At the moment the residents of Leighton Buzzard are losing faith in the ability of Bedfordshire Police to protect our town.”

Regarding Friday’s incidents, a Beds Police spokesman said: “We are currently investigating an attempted ram raid at Wilko in Leighton Buzzard, which happened at around 4am on Friday, May 18. The shop was damaged but nothing was stolen.

“A green BMW has been recovered as part of this investigation, however no-one has been arrested at this stage and enquiries are on-going. Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 quoting ref JD/23166/2018. You can also give information online via the police website – www.bedfordshire.police.uk.”