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Police chiefs reassure Bedfordshire residents amid Covid-19 outbreak

26 Mar 2020

Bedfordshire Police's Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner have joined calls for people to stay in their homes to help contain the spread of coronavirus.

As Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new legislation which will give police powers to fine those who flaunt the government direction for people to stay in their homes, Chief Constable Garry Forsyth and PCC Kathryn Holloway released statements to reassure communities of the work officers are continuing to carry out. Mr Forsyth said:

"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.

“As a police force we are 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.

“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 to ask people to go back in their homes – so please follow the guidance. Stay in, stay safe and save lives.”

PCC Kathryn Holloway is also supporting the force, and introducing a range of initiatives to keep people safe, including:

- Setting aside £60,000 as an accommodation fund for those needing emergency respite from domestic abuse.
- Operating an emergency parcel delivery service for the most vulnerable elderly people
- Sourcing protective masks, aprons and anti-bacterial products to assist the force while a continuous supply chain of such items was being set up.
- Opening up bids for £240,000 funding – particular for diversionary activities for young people in crime hotspots or targeted support for victims of crime via online contact.

Commissioner Holloway said: “As always, my office and I are working shoulder to shoulder with Bedfordshire Police to support communities and victims of crime and the welfare of our officers and staff, on whom the rest of us depend, who are continuing to work with absolute dedication on your behalf.

“Please bear this in mind if officers in coming days and weeks have to ask you to explain why you are away from home for very obvious reasons, given current instructions which are to stay home as far as humanly possible to stay safe.

“For my part, I am acutely aware that domestic abuse rises in circumstances when people are in enforced contact. For this reason, I have set aside £60,000 as an accommodation fund for those needing emergency respite and my office has connected with our partners who run refuge and other support services so that they are aware of this.

“The Signpost victim support hub continues to work on the usual freephone number to offer support to those affected by crime, on 0800 0282 887. Callers are asked to leave a message and our specialist victim care coordinators will get back to them.

“My office is also operating an emergency parcel delivery service for the most vulnerable elderly people, identified by our charitable and grant funded partners, using the vehicles of the Bobby Van home security charity scheme in the first instance and Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service has volunteered to continue to distribute the parcels if the regular staff are unable to do so.

“I am opening the remainder of my grants commissioning fund to bids next week as I had left a further £240,000 for my successor to distribute. I am particularly keen to hear from any organisation able to offer diversionary activities for young people in crime hotspots or targeted support for victims of crime via online contact, given the requirement for social distancing for the foreseeable future.”

To read the full statements, please visit the dedicated section on the force website.

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