Bedfordshire Police has hit back after it was rated the worst force in the country in its annual inspection.
The report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) rated the force ‘inadequate’ at keeping the public safe and reducing crime, as reported previously.
Of all 28 police forces in the country, Beds was the only one to receive the ‘inadequate’ rating - the lowest of the four ratings.
Beds Police Ch Insp Jon Boutcher said: “It is incredibly disappointing to have been so unfairly judged.”
He added: “I fully accept that there are areas we need to improve on, but to judge the force as inadequate does not give a fair reflection of all the fantastic and innovative work being carried out, particularly following a recent restructure to ensure our priority is protecting the vulnerable.”
One of the major criticisms of the HMIC report was the lack of community policing, particularly in rural areas.
Regarding this, Ch Insp Boutcher said: “I, above anyone, realise that we need to do more but we cannot provide community policing as we once did with the complexity of addressing child sexual exploitation, domestic abuse, hate crime, sexual offences, cyber-related crime and terrorism.
“These are areas that require specialist resources and it is in those areas that the force is seeking to excel. We have to deliver community policing in a targeted way providing our communities with policing that is accessible to them and responds to their needs.”
He was backed by Beds Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway, who said the force had recruited 96 police constables since May and is in the process of recruiting 100 more.
Mrs Holloway said: “Unfortunately, the HMIC latest grading for the force in the effectiveness report cannot reflect all the work currently happening, as an Inspector can only give credit for work which is fully completed and bedded in, to prove that it is producing improvements.
“This makes describing Bedfordshire Police as inadequate rather like criticising a half built house for not being water tight.
“While it is disappointing, it cannot truly surprise anyone that this means an ‘inadequate’ rating until all the new recruitment is in place. What I can do is reassure you that nobody at Bedfordshire Police is complacent about improving its service to you and your communities, and this work is well in hand.”