Bedfordshire's deputy police and crime commissioner criticised over response to survey on perceptions of police

“We would like you to take on board what the survey said rather than trying to knock it back”
Ian Dalgarno. Screenshot Environment and Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee Thursday, 23rd November 2023 Image: LDRSIan Dalgarno. Screenshot Environment and Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee Thursday, 23rd November 2023 Image: LDRS
Ian Dalgarno. Screenshot Environment and Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee Thursday, 23rd November 2023 Image: LDRS

Bedfordshire’s deputy police and crime commissioner has been criticised by borough councillors over his response to a council survey.

But he said the survey’s questions only offered a “limited” snapshot of residents’ concerns.

A report on the Bedford Borough Council Citizens’ Survey 2023 was presented to the Environment and Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Thursday (November 23).

The survey was open for five weeks over September and October.

Bedfordshire’s deputy police and crime commissioner, Ian Dalgarno, attended the meeting to answer questions on the report’s findings on the public’s perceptions of Bedfordshire Police.

Councillor Charles Royden (Lib Dems, Brickhill) said that his experience with his local police team was “very good”.

But he was concerned that overall the comments within the survey perceived a “lack of police presence and a responsiveness in the Bedford area”.

Mr Dalgarno, replied: “At no point in these [report] questions does it say, ‘do you feel safe in your community?’, ‘do you feel safe to go out at night?’, ‘do you feel safe walking down to the shops?’ etc.

“So I look at the questions in the report and it does fill me with a bit of concern as it’s very much a very limited narrow snapshot in terms of the way the questions are asked.”

He added that other surveys used questions to give a wider snapshot.

Councillor James Valentine (Labour, Kempston West) said: “I’m a bit surprised, sir, by the fact that you don’t seem to be taking any of this survey on board.

“And in fact, you’ve actually criticised the survey.

“I was impressed by the survey and I just feel it’s not appropriate for you to come along and criticise a survey.

“You should be taking this on board and saying ‘what can we do differently?’, ‘what can we do better?’

“Some of the points made are fairly specific and I think what you would be better to do to reassure the public, the people that we represent, with what you’re going to do about it,” he said.

Councillor Jonathan Abbott (Lib Dems, Clapham & Oakley) said: “The survey has only been done in the last two months, so generally it’s going to be people with reasonably fresh experience of having to contact the police who were likely to be responding.

“The general level of satisfaction is very poor. It does feel as if a disproportionate amount of effort goes into the south of the county and very little happens in Bedford borough.

“We would like you to take on board what the survey said rather than trying to knock it back,” he said.

Mr Dalgarno said the force collects satisfaction data from a number of different areas, including Bedford borough’s report.

“Central Bedfordshire runs one all year round, and they tend to have a wider cohort because they run it 365 days of the year.

“In terms of the force itself, and obviously the OPCC, we run an annual survey as well. That helps us to build a picture of what the residents feel secure about and what their biggest concerns are.”