The Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police has issued a statement describing the circumstances that led to the force running out of officers during a crime spree last September.
South West Beds MP Andrew Selous quoted a letter from Chief Constable Jon Boutcher yesterday in the House of Commons which related the event, as previously reported here.
Chief Constable Boutcher stated: “The letter from me quoted in the House of Commons this week relates to a day in Bedfordshire in September last year which highlighted in microcosm the issues we face on a daily basis.
“On that particular day, a Sunday in September, our officers had to deal with numerous crimes including four rapes, the tragic fatal stabbing of a teenager, a large gang fight involving weapons in which a teenage boy suffered life-threatening injuries and many young men were hospitalised, several serious assaults at Bedford prison and a young man presenting himself at hospital with gunshot injuries from another violent crime.
“I am sure everyone can imagine the level of resources required to manage these complex incidents involving arrests, scene guards, hospital guards, traffic management and the interaction with families suffering unexpected loss and serious injury to loved ones.
“There then remains the requirement to respond to all other incidents that are taking place.
“The point of highlighting this day was that it was a reflection of the complexity and level of crime we have to deal with – which you would expect in a large metropolitan area – yet we are funded as a small rural force.
“Existing police numbers do not allow for the response that our communities have a right to expect.
“Police funding issues are no secret and my force has been lobbying for proper funding for the police service for some time.
“This particular day outlined the reality of what we are up against – too often we simply do not have the officers to respond to every incident as we would want, and as the public would expect us to. We run out of officers to deal with emergency calls.
“We will, of course, always prioritise emergency calls but the situation cannot be allowed to get any worse. This is not crying wolf. These are facts.
“I do believe the current Policing Minister and Home Secretary understand the issues we face and I welcome the recent shift in approach to police funding under the current Home Secretary with Bedfordshire receiving an additional investment of a £4.571m Special Grant to tackle guns and gangs and the ability for our Police and Crime Commissioner to increase the council tax precept.
“The first responsibility of government is to protect its citizens.
“I can assure everyone that police officers and staff across the country want to respond to all incidents where the public need our help and to provide the public with the best possible service.
“We are not crying wolf, we are asking for the tools to do the job. This is not rocket science.”