Tory candidate in Bedfordshire PCC election announces plans for 12 week drug and alcohol programme

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The Conservative Party candidate in the race to be Bedfordshire's next Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has announced his plans for a new drug and alcohol programme, should he be elected.

Festus Akinbusoye is the Tory candidate in the Bedfordshire PCC election, due to take place on Thursday, May 6, 2021.

Mr Akinbusoye has proposed a 'Next Step' programme, which would comprise of a 12-week long drug and alcohol rehabilitation treatment for "low to medium-risk repeat offenders" as an alternative to court proceedings.

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The Tory candidate said: "During this period, offenders will agree to strict terms of conduct and treatment in return for extra support, rehabilitation and disposal of prosecution. Included in the treatment programme will be counselling, drug and alcohol treatment and life skills coaching."

Festus AkinbusoyeFestus Akinbusoye
Festus Akinbusoye

Mr Akinbusoye has cited recent Home Office data which revealed that approximately 34,000 drug users in Bedfordshire spent £113m on cocaine and cannabis alone in 2019. Alcohol-related crime costs nearly £2bn to the police and criminal justice system.

"I’ve spent over 200 hours serving as a frontline Special Constable throughout Bedfordshire,” said Mr Akinbusoye.

“During this time, it became clear to me the massive role that illicit drug-use and excessive alcohol consumption plays in everyday crime - whether it is shoplifting, burglaries or domestic abuse.

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"Our hardworking police teams are regularly confronted by the same groups of offenders. This inevitably takes them away from other policing duties. It is imperative therefore that we tackle this situation head on,” he added.

"‘The Next Step Programme’ is designed not only to help those who wish to turn their lives around, but also to free up police time to make Bedfordshire safer.

"The programme will also deliver substantial savings on the police budget. Ministry of Justice figures show a £3 return on investment for every £1 spent on alcohol treatment. This gain increases to £4 for drug treatment. There is also a near 50% decrease in re-offending rates within two years of those undertaking treatment programmes.

"If elected as our next Police and Crime Commissioner for Bedfordshire, we will continue to enforce the law through our Boson team and target those who are wreaking havoc and fear in our communities.

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“As well as enforcement, I will also focus on the demand side of illicit drugs and alcohol dependency in Bedfordshire through early intervention work by our Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU), and rehabilitation programmes. The Next Step programme will be a key step in making our county safer.”