‘Cough up for a local bobby’ - Bedfordshire Police boss sends begging letter to ‘cash-rich’ communities

Beds Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Kathryn Holloway has sent a begging letter to the lowest tier of local government to fund PCSOs after learning they may hold “substantial reserves”.

Mrs Holloway wrote to parish councils across Bedfordshire, admitting that last month’s Government’s settlement - which she lauded as “the greatest achievement of my professional life” - was not enough.

The PCC wrote: “The answer, in your local area, may lie in your hands. I am told by councillors from the three unitary authorities in Bedfordshire (who are also facing substantial reductions in funding) that the parishes hold some substantial reserves.

“A PCSO costs £31,200 to fund each year. If your council wishes to consider the funding of such an officer to be dedicated to policing in the local area, subject to agreement, I would be very grateful if you would contact me directly...”

Of the force’s £8m settlement increase announced in December, just £1.4m was provided by the Government for policing, with £1.2m towards the pensions deficit.

The remaining £5.6m is expected to be raised through increasing the police precept of council tax - around £24 a year for a Band D home.

Last year, the PCC also bid for a £4.57m emergency bail-out from the Government’s specialist policing grant in order to tackle soaring rates of gang, gun and knife crime. A Home Office report unveiled by the Sunday Times revealed that knife crime had risen by 86% in Bedfordshire since 2014.

She wrote: “I am insisting however, since all the elements of income above amount to an extra £12.5m - albeit as a one year arrangement only – the Force must recruit 160 Police Constables this year to bolster local policing primarily.

“I will be frank: this is not enough, especially to provide an uplift in the villages. I provided evidence to Government in October 2017 that Bedfordshire Police requires some 300 officers and 80 detectives to meet its crime demand in a way that is comparable with other forces facing similar challenges.

“The Government had intended to address the funding of all 43 forces more fundamentally in December 2020, with a promise to put that of Bedfordshire Police on a more sustainable footing permanently.

“I am now learning that this is likely to be delayed by a further year, in all probability because of Brexit and the economic uncertainty that surrounds it.”

The PCC was forced to attend two community meetings in Houghton Regis and Shefford last year after complaints about rising crime in those areas. These meetings had not originally been part of her road-show across the county.

The first parish council expected to discuss the PCC’s cash request is Leighton-Linslade Town Council on Monday.

To read the letter in full, click here.

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