Bedfordshire Police has welcomed a report which praises the force for its preparedness to tackle national threats such as terrorism, serious cyber crime and child sexual abuse.
The report, by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) into ‘Effectiveness’ found Bedfordshire Police ‘Required Improvement’ overall in keeping people safe and reducing crime.
However, the force was graded as ‘Good’ for how effective it is at investigating crime and managing offenders.
HMIC also made reference to the ‘funding challenge’ faced by the force, commenting: ‘Bedfordshire Police deals with a range of complex policing challenges and serious criminality on a scale not normally experienced by a force of its size’.
The report follows a ‘Good’ grading last week by HMIC following a ‘Legitimacy’ inspection. HMIC assessed the culture within Bedfordshire Police and how this is reflected in the force’s public engagement, use of Taser and compliance with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Collins said: “While it is disappointing to be graded as ‘Requires Improvement’, protecting people and improving our service to victims remains a priority for Bedfordshire Police and we have already made changes to address the concerns raised in the recent HMIC ‘Vulnerability’ report.
“The report does praise a lot of the work being done across the force – in particular around the readiness to deal with national threats and investigating crime. We are confident that our new policing model will address many of the concerns raised in this report – for example tackling low-level anti-social behaviour and improving preventative work at community level.
“We are always looking at ways to improve the way we work and we are pleased that HMI Zoe Billingham highlighted Bedfordshire Police for the work we are doing to increase our presence and engagement in our communities.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Olly Martins said: “The report highlights, once again, the paucity of our funding position. If like Bedfordshire you can only afford 169 officers per 100,000 population, when the average in England and Wales average is 232, but you face the type of serious crime challenges more commonly found within the larger urban police forces, it’s obvious that some areas of work will be seriously over-stretched. The report recognises that.
“‘Requires Improvement’ should read ‘Funding Requires Improvement’. If our funding was on par with the challenges we face the report would inevitably have different conclusions. Even with the current level of funding, it references much of the good work being delivered, reinforcing the positive news in last week’s report on police legitimacy.
“HMIC finds Bedfordshire Police is ethical and well-led. There just aren’t enough of them and we would need at least 300 more officers to have the same resources as forces facing comparable challenges.”