"Really disappointing accounts" heard of how police speak to people says Bedfordshire's Police and Crime Commissioner

No one calls Bedfordshire Police because they're having a good day, says Bedfordshire's PCC

By John Guinn
Tuesday, 26th April 2022, 12:39 pm
Festus Akinbusoye
Festus Akinbusoye

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has heard some “really disappointing accounts” of how people have been spoken to when calling the police.

And he said it was ‘disappointing’ for the force to be assessed as ‘requires improvement’ for responding to the public.

Bedfordshire Police’s recent PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) rated it as ‘outstanding’ for the way it manages offenders.

But it was assessed as ‘requires improvement’ for responding to the public.

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Festus Akinbusoye, said he had spoken to the force’s executive about the things it can control and what it can’t.

“We might not be able to control every crime out there,” he said.

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“But simple things, such as when somebody calls and how quickly we answer their call and how we talk with them [is something we can control].

“I have heard some really disappointing accounts of how people have been spoken to [when contacting Bedfordshire Police].

“That is something that I’m very unhappy with in terms of the outcome of the report and I hope by the time next time we have the next PEEL assessment it would be different.

“Because I want that area of business to be improved drastically, because that is an area that we’ve got control over in how we deal with the members of the public.

“No one calls Bedfordshire Police because they’re having a good day,” he said.

“Most people call us because they need something, and I think sometimes we’re not always thinking that way.”

The PCC admitted that this was easy for him to say as he doesn’t have to take the calls, which may affect those that do.

“But I am very much trying to be on top of this and making sure that every single contact that the public has with Bedfordshire Police is a positive one, and one that gives a good impression of the force and what we’re here for,” he said,

“I don’t think we are exactly there yet.

“In my mind’s eye, I want to see us be that force has goes from requires improvement to being good or outstanding between assessments.”

But is there a danger that the brusque manner in the way some officers and staff talk to each other or to the public just too ingrained to change?

“So there is that probably that culture,” the PCC said.

“But those officers will not talk to their superiors like that, because they want to get promoted, right?

“So they won’t talk to them like that, but they might talk to someone they see as a subordinate in that way, which is not right.

“I know Garry [Forsyth, the chief constable] doesn’t do that, I know Trevor [Broadhurst, the deputy chief constable] doesn’t do that.

“So my question to them is, how are you guys making sure that your values trickle down right through the entire organisation?

“But we’re in a much better place now than the force was five or six years ago.

“And I can’t ignore that, even though I’m not entirely satisfied with where we are at the moment,” he said.