There are just seven police officers and one sergeant in Bedfordshire's Rural Policing Team, a meeting was told.
The Bedfordshire police and crime commissioner (PCC), Festus Akinbusoye, gave an update on his Rural Crime and Strategy to the Police and Crime Panel yesterday (October 12).
His report said that he has made the voice of the public, who want a balance between town and country policing, very clear to Bedfordshire Police.
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Councillor James Weir (Bedford Borough Council asked, “How detailed was the response when you are making that voice clear to the chief constable?”
The PCC said that he said he had a positive response.
“One of my concerns coming in [to this role] was that I was going to be hit with ‘well, there is very little crime in the rural areas, so do we need the Rural Crime Team to be maintained?’" he said.
He added that the team, which he believes is based in Dunstable, seized seven cars a few days ago as part of Operation Galileo, which investigates hare coursing.
“If I had my way, I would get those vehicles crushed,” he said.
“I believe that there are seven officers within the Rural Crime Team, with one sergeant.
“As far as I'm aware, that number will not be diminishing anytime soon, but they do a good amount of work.”
Councillor Neil Bunyan (Central Bedfordshire Council) said, “You said that the number will not be diminishing, I rather hoped that you said that it’s been doubled.
“Bedfordshire is a rural county, as you’ll be well aware. I’m absolutely astonished that there are only seven officers.”
The PCC responded, “If I had my way, I would want to see more officers in very key areas in our business.
“But the reality is that I don’t have the say over the actual numbers with that regard.”
The PCC explained that he has had this conversation with the chief constable. The chief constable said if he moved officers, how would replace them?
“This is the reality, the day-to-day reality of operational police,” the PCC said.
“And is one of the strategic challenges that we face in Bedfordshire.”