You will have no doubt heard the term ‘community policing’ mentioned, perhaps in the news, or in statements from police forces, but what does this mean here in Bedfordshire?
Community policing has changed a lot in Bedfordshire over the past decade.
It is no secret that Bedfordshire is under resourced due to being funded as a rural force but has to deal with issues more usually experienced in large metropolitan areas – such as gun and gang crime, exploitation and terrorism.
Policing has also changed significantly in recent years, with a shift to safeguarding and protecting vulnerable people to dealing with advances in offending online and emerging issues such as hate crime and child sexual exploitation.
All of this means we have limited resources to police all of our neighbourhoods in the manner which is sometimes expected by communities. Crime is no longer just on our streets, foot patrols are not effective in dealing with issues such as cyber fraud which accounts for a huge amount of reported crime across the country.
Due to these funding and resourcing challenges, a decision was taken several years ago to reduce the number of community officers to focus on those other high harm crimes.
However, our current Chief Constable Jon Boutcher decided to re-invest in community policing and implement a new hub model across Bedfordshire. This was in order to get a better understanding of our communities, identify issues and problem solve at an early stage.
We are committed to a community policing model which has dedicated teams of officers to work in designated neighbourhoods, to listen to particular needs and problems within an area, and set priorities that matter to local residents and impact communities.
But our policing model has to be flexible and be able to change to deal with emerging issues.
So these community officers are supported by specialist departments such as the dog unit, major crime and armed policing alongside our response function which reacts to 999 calls dependent on the threat, harm and risk people are facing in that moment.
For our community policing model to work effectively it has to be a two-way relationship. We cannot effectively police all of our towns and villages without the co-operation and assistance of our communities.
We need people to be our eyes and ears – reporting suspicious behaviour in your neighbourhood and providing the intelligence and information to help us solve crime and arrest offenders.
Education is a huge part of the way we police our communities. We actively encourage people to do what they can to prevent crime happening in the first place.
By providing advice, giving talks or one-to-one visits, working closely with neighbourhood watch groups, and through a variety of other techniques; we aim to minimise the risk of crime in your area.
We believe that our officers are best able to serve the residents of the county by forging close local links, and not just with residents. Partnerships with other organisations are also vital, such as government agencies, local authorities, other emergency services, community groups, non-profit service providers, private businesses and the media.
We do understand, however, that this is not the perfect solution. In an ideal world, residents would feel safer seeing more bobbies on the beat, but rest assured we are committed to keeping people safe and tackling those issues which really matter in your neighbourhood.
Find our what is happening in your community by visiting your area.
Watch Jon Boutcher's recent interview with Sky News and hear about the challenges faced by the force.
For more information about how demand for policing is managed in Bedfordshire, please read our
Force management statement.
To report any incidents or concerns in your community, you can use our online reporting centre.
In an emergency, always call 999.