'Inspiring' figurehead's departure means search for new Beds Police community scrutiny panel leader begins

Role will involve scrutiny of stop and search issues

Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 5:11 pm
Updated Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 5:12 pm

A search has been launched for a new figurehead to hold Bedfordshire Police to account.

Montell Neufville has overseen a major expansion of independent scrutiny during his time at the helm of Bedfordshire’s stop and search community scrutiny panel.

The panel has expanded to also scrutinise use of force, helped deliver a national stop and search conference in Bedfordshire, as well as being recognised by the Criminal Justice Alliance as an example of best practice.

Montell Neufville

The recruitment process has now been launched to find Mr Neufville’s replacement in a crucial role to improve how stop and search is delivered in communities across the county.

A recent audit by police watchdog Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) found that 95 per cent of stop and searches carried out by Bedfordshire Police were based on reasonable grounds, up from 81 per cent in 2018.

Superintendent Ian Taylor, the force’s lead for stop and search, said: “Montell has been an inspiring and constructive figurehead for leading and improving our robust scrutiny of stop and search here in Bedfordshire.

“I am proud of the work we do in this area. Our checks and balances on these hugely influential powers are seen as best practice and Montell has been a massive part of that.

“From having among the lowest levels of disproportionality in stop and search of all UK police forces through to a 95 per cent rate of stop and searches carried out under reasonable grounds, the panel and training Montell has been part of have all played their part in these huge strides forward.

“I want to thank him for his efforts and look forward to working with our next scrutiny panel chair to make further improvements.”

Mr Neufville has helped raise the profile and number of people involved in the panel, as well as building trust between policing and different communities in Bedfordshire.

He has also presented on this work at national conferences and retained a major focus on disproportionality.

“The panel wasn’t well known either within policing or within communities,” he said.

“Now virtually every police officer and most members of staff are aware of the panel, its aims and its achievements. It is also possibly the best-known scrutiny panel in the country, partly due to national work and also because it is seen as UK best practice in how community scrutiny should work.

“We all see people in uniform as ‘the police’ and assume that they all think the same and act the same. They are not the same, just as not all teachers are the same, and the majority are decent, caring men and women.

“This has been a hugely challenging and enjoyable role and I want to wish my successor the best of luck.”

The recruitment process is open and available to everyone and you do not have to be an existing panel member.

If you would like more information or want to apply please send a CV and written expression of interest to either Mr Neufville or panel vice-chair Martin White by email on [email protected] and [email protected]The new chair will be mentored and supported by Mr Neufville, the two current panel vice chairs as well as Bedfordshire Police.