Bedfordshire Police was the only force in the country to be rated ‘inadequate’ in its inspection by a police watchdog, it was announced today.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) carried out inspections on all 28 police forces across the country and rated Beds Police bottom of the list.
In a damning report, HMIC found Beds Police inadequate at protecting vulnerable people – a criticism that was also made in the force’s 2015 inpection.
HMIC stated: “[We] continue to have serious concerns about the force’s overall response to missing children and young people, not just the force control room response. The process of assessing calls about missing children is poor.”
It added: “The visibility of community policing in rural areas across Bedfordshire is poor, and the force recognises that it needs to do much more to reconnect with communities. This is also a priority for the new police and crime commissioner.”
The report highlighted successes such as Operation Sentinel and noted that it had closed 11 brothels in Luton between November 2015 and November 2016.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Zoë Billingham said: “I am disappointed with Bedfordshire Police’s performance.
“It is the only force in England and Wales to be judged to be inadequate in its effectiveness in keeping people safe and reducing crime. The force’s performance has deteriorated since last year.”
She added: “Despite repeated assurances that it would do so, at the time of our inspection, beyond isolated pockets of good practice, the force had still not put in place effective and consistent preventative community policing across the force area.
“This is vital if the force is to prevent crime from happening in the first place. The force simply does not have enough police officers and PCSOs dedicated to community policing to consistently engage with and protect its communities.”
The inspector acknowledged Beds Police’s low funding and high crime in Luton, stating it represents a “challenge for a small force with very stretched resources”.
She added: “Despite all of this, I have seen how day-in, day-out, the hard working police officers and staff are doing their best, with very limited resources and often under extreme pressure, to keep the public safe.”