Boost for cop hubs in Chronicle country

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The thin blue line in Bedfordshire has received a welcome boost with the news that the number of PCs in community policing hubs will be doubled.

Four PCs specialising in Community Policing will join each of the Hub teams based in North Rural (covering Ampthill and Biggleswade), Luton North, Luton South, Dunstable (covering Houghton Regis), Leighton Buzzard, and North Urban (covering Bedford).

It’s part of a promise by Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway to boost the strength of PCs in Community Policing Hubs countywide from 35 to 76 this financial year.

Bedfordshire Police will also create a Neighbourhood Intervention Team of a Sergeant and nine new PCs who will be a permanent trouble shooting unit to move around the county to deal with issues as they arise in communities, at neighbourhood level, anywhere in Bedfordshire.

The team was inspired by the success of Operation Hilton in Dunstable, which followed a public meeting held by the PCC and attended by Chief Constable, Jon Boutcher in late August 2018.

Op Hilton successfully targeted drug dealers and resulted in multiple arrests and the seizure of Class A drugs, weapons and counterfeit money over a fortnight of focussed operational deployments.

Mrs Holloway has also held meetings with residents in Chronicle country, including in Shefford over fears of a rise in anti-social behaviour.

Of the force’s £8m funding increase announced in December, just £1.4m was provided by the Government for frontline policing, with £1.2m towards the pensions deficit. The remaining £5.6m is to be raised through increasing the police precept of council tax – around £24 a year for a Band D home.

Mrs Holloway said: “Every community and those who represent it, such as MPs and councillors, have been crying out for an uplift to officers dedicated to Neighbourhood Policing.

“The Hubs are working; they are out and about in communities every day and also set three local community priorities every few months with these elected representatives and other key community groups to concentrate on at any one time, but we need to give them more help given the scale of public demand, and provide it through officers with full warranted powers.