£2.9m special grant saved Beds Police from further cuts this year, meeting told

Policing in Bedfordshire would have faced cuts without a special grant of nearly £3m this year, a meeting of the county’s police and crime panel heard.

The £2.9m covers the cost of the force’s Boson unit, which targets organised crime groups and serious violence.

Bedfordshire Police could also have been facing an overspend for 2020/21, if the extra money had failed to materialise, the panel was told.

At the time of the cash award, Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway described it as “a truly terrible day to be in an organised crime group or violent gang in the county”.

The Boson team executed 43 warrants and made 108 arrests, according to Bedfordshire Police figures from February to July this year.

In the same period, the team seized two guns, six imitation firearms, almost four kilograms of Class A and Class B drugs and around £67,800 in cash.

“For the third year running, I’ve been successful in winning another special grant for Bedfordshire Police,” said the PCC.

“And I refer to that in public as being against all the odds, which it most certainly was.

“The policing minister wrote to all police forces and PCCs, earlier this year, to warn us there was an intention not to give special policing grants, outside the original terms, to cover events outside business as usual policing.”

This relates to something which happens on a single day, such as a terror event, she explained.

“Instead, I put a highly detailed robust report, independently verified, to the Home Office and the policing minister Kit Malthouse and was successful in getting the £2.9m.

“Having seen evidence of the performance of Bosun, our specialist team which deals with gang, gun and knife crime, he referred to us (in a Tweet) as ‘a force on the front foot.’

“And the reward for leading that force for my Chief Constable has been £2.9m in addition to £3m last year and £4.571m the year before.

“I don’t know whether that’s unprecedented,” she added. “I suspect that it is. But it’s a very major win for me and my team.

“Without it, you’ll appreciate the work of Bosun has to go on, given the severity of the crime it deals with.

“And that could have meant not only an overspend at Bedfordshire Police, but that services to the public would have had to be cut.

“So it’s fortunate the Home Office and the policing minister accepted my argument in full.”

The county force made 62 arrests and charged 11 people, as well as recording more than 100 disruptions of organised crime groups, according to eastern region special operations unit (ERSOU) figures.

The PCC said: “In September, we issued a warrant in Luton which resulted in seven being arrested with Class B drugs and £10,000 in cash seized.

“The operations as a whole resulted in 104 individuals being arrested across the east, during a particular focus on organised crime.

“And, on September 16th, three men were sentenced to a total of 15 years for a drug dealing conspiracy, after Boson cracked down on a gang running drugs from Bedford into Cambridge.

“It’s been a truly exceptional quarter for activity against organised crime groups in Bedfordshire, not withstanding the pandemic.”