Bedfordshire Police is patting itself on the back after turning one of its ‘inadequate’ ratings to ‘requires improvement’.
The county’s Police and Crime Commissioner kathryn Holloway says the latest report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) show the force to be the most improved in the country.
Last year Mrs Holloway made an official complaint against the 2016 inspector over what she claimed was a lack of impartiality over the report, and was provided with a new inspector.
He has concluded the force requires improvement in effectiveness and efficiency and is good in ‘legitimacey in keeping people safe and reducing crime.
Inspector Matt Parr stated: “Bedfordshire Police requires improvement at keeping people safe and reducing crime. Since HMICFRS’ 2016 effectiveness inspection the force has made solid progress in most areas, and HMICFRS is pleased to see that efforts have been made to ensure that improvements have been made throughout the force. However, further action is needed in a number of areas set out below in order to provide the public with an effective service and to continue its recent improvements.
“The force does not yet have an effective approach to preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour. Although it has made progress since 2016, it needs to resource local policing teams fully and continue to develop staff skills in crime prevention and problem solving. At the time of the inspection the force was ahead of schedule for its resourcing plans. The force is improving its understanding of what matters to local communities and is improving its response to their needs. The force works proactively with other organisations to solve problems and address the underlying causes of crime. It is developing more sophisticated analysis, to focus staff activity and maximise its positive effect.
“Bedfordshire Police needs to improve its investigation of crimes. The force needs to improve the timeliness of its initial response to victims, as we found the current model does not always provide victims with a good service when they need it. The force also needs to improve its approach to the examination of digital devices in support of investigations, such as mobile phones and computers, and ensure arrested foreign nationals are subjected to checks for overseas convictions to understand and manage the risk they may pose more effectively. Positively, crimes are generally investigated to a good standard. The force makes good use of intelligence, and victims are regularly updated as investigations progress. The force has some understanding of those who cause the most harm in communities, and has a good approach to reducing re-offending.
“The force must improve its ability to protect vulnerable people. It does not consistently identify vulnerable people when they initially contact the police via the force control room. Subsequent risk assessments are also of inconsistent quality. The force investigates most crimes involving vulnerable victims to a good standard. However, officers and staff are dealing with unacceptably high workloads. There are increased sickness absence rates, which compromises the force’s ability to conduct high-quality investigations and provide tailored support to victims.
“The force responds well to serious and organised crime. It has improved its understanding of organised crime threats, and works well with partner organisations to tackle organised crime groups, although it should do more to involve local policing teams in disrupting organised criminals. The force also needs to enhance its ability to prevent serious and organised crime, for example by identifying and supporting young people who are at risk of being drawn into gang violence.
“Bedfordshire Police has the necessary arrangements in place to fulfil its national policing responsibilities, and to initially respond to an attack requiring an armed response.”
Mrs Holloway said: “Naturally I am delighted that our new HMI, Matt Parr, has confirmed to the Force that he sees Bedfordshire Police as having made the greatest improvement when it comes to Effectiveness, following last year’s report.
“It reflects the hard work and commitment of officers and staff, particularly in relation to the Force’s response to those children who are looked after by local authorities but who frequently abscond.
“Bedfordshire Police will always do all in its power to address the areas for improvement highlighted in the reports of HMICFRS and this will be the case in relation to the feedback released today.”