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Statement from Chief Constable Garry Forsyth

As the spread of coronavirus (COVID 19) continues, these are deeply concerning times for us all. Each and every one of our lives will be impacted by this in some way, from job uncertainty or loss to contracting the disease or losing a loved one to it.

Our society as we know it has already been hugely impacted, with music concerts, sporting events and festivals being postponed or cancelled, schools closed, exams cancelled, and restrictions on movement of the like we would previously have been unable to comprehend placed upon us. Everyone is coming to terms with the inevitable disruption caused to their ordinary lives. 

The Bedfordshire Police family is no different, we are all having to work differently to continue our service to you – being innovative with technology to allow people to work remotely to help slow the spread of infection and taking appropriate measures when policing our communities, to be in line with government advice.  

But I want you all to know, we are still working hard to keep people safe, reassure communities and tackle those cruel individuals who may seek to profit in some way from this awful pandemic.

We still have officers out on the front line, in our response vehicles and on foot patrol. We will still have staff ready to answer the phone and teams of detectives to investigate the crimes which sadly will continue to happen. 

While we may have to operate in slightly different ways, our focus is still firmly on protecting people and fighting crime, especially protecting the most vulnerable in Bedfordshire – so would continue to urge victims of crime, particularly of domestic or sexual abuse, to come forward. We will still listen. We will still support you. And we will still lock up those who cause you harm. 

We are incredibly fortunate to have great relationships with our communities and partner organisations across the county. The relationships we have mean we are used to working closely with our blue light colleagues from fire and ambulance, with local authorities, hospitals and public health services. We can access a strong network of volunteers to coordinate the critical services to support all of our communities, particularly those who are most in need. We meet with these partners regularly and all of the planning we have done in the past to prepare for a time such as this is now paying off. 

I recognise that our service levels may change over the coming weeks and months as we respond to new issues and challenges presented as a result of the virus. Whether that is the time it might take to answer a call, or to respond to a crime report. As a small force with complex crime challenges we are used to prioritising in order to protect people, and that approach will continue through this time of uncertainty – what is never in doubt is the dedication and commitment of the force to protect your from threat, risk and harm.  

I am also acutely aware that not all of the great work that is being carried out by our officers and staff will be visible or apparent to members of the public, particularly while people are isolated in their own homes. Which is why we have launched, with our partners across Bedfordshire, the Keeping Beds Safe campaign – which we will use to demonstrate all of the great work which is being carried out across the county. You can follow the campaign using the hashtag #KeepingBedsSafe from our social media accounts, and we will also be posting information on this website and through our BedsAlert email system. 

The government has given policing additional powers to enforce the measures restricting people’s freedom of movement, but I would make a simple plea to our communities as we don’t want to waste our valuable resources patrolling every street to ask people to go back in their homes – so please follow the guidance. Stay in, stay safe and save lives.

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