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Greater openness and fewer crimes

By Luton On Sunday  |  Posted: July 12, 2013

  • LD Front-Armed Police and a Dog Handler on Patrol in Marsh Fram

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OUT with the old, in with the new. Or, to be more accurate the aim is to build and improve on what has been done already. This is the objective of new Chief Constable for Bedfordshire, Colette Paul.

Colette worked in the Met, as did her predecessor, Alf Hitchcock, where they knew each other. But she has come here from South Wales.

Bedfordshire is a much smaller force, but has its own unique issues, such as violent crime in Luton.

That is being tackled and tackled vigorously.

Colette said: “Currently there are 12 investigations under way, 9 firearms have been recovered. So far 45 arrests have been made and 30 search warrants issued. In relation to this kind of crime, though, we are also using a different approach with regard to the public. This is a very small number of people committing these crimes and the overwhelming majority of the people of Luton are decent, law-abiding citizens.

“That may sound like a cliche but it is true. So we are working with the communities and their leaders to encourage them to come forward with information. We need the intelligence but also evidence. We can guarantee anonymity. The police will put a lot of effort in, I personally will put a lot of effort in but we need everyone else to come together and work together to rid us of these crimes and criminals.”

And what of the rest of the county?

Colette said: “Bedfordshire is a fantastic place to live and work. And we need to remember the rural areas, who sometimes feel forgotten when it comes to modern policing.

“While budgets are tight and will remain tight, we can do more, especially regarding rural crime, by using technology to make policing smarter, as well as the option of Special Constables.

And overall performance?

“I will continue with the aim of putting Bedfordshire in the top 20 of all categories by which we are judged, apart from victim satisfaction, where I plan to be in the top ten.”

Even with tighter budgets?

“The budgets have been agreed up to 2016. I accept the year 2016-17 might be a bit tricky but as I said we can do more by working smarter. Also the staff here all work incredibly hard and often wear two or three different hats as it were.”

And what of Police and Crime Commissioners. Are they a good or bad thing?

“They can add value by the ability to challenge. We have to work together and make sure the relationship is spot on. I accept that around the country it has been a bit hit and miss in some places. But here it is working well. Olly Martins is committed to improving policing, as am I, so we have a good working relationship already.”

And relations with the press?

“I want openness and transparency as far as possible. Obviously there will always be elements of police work that need to be covert but I want openness in everything else. I accept we will get it in the neck if we get things wrong but so long as the stories are accurate and fair I have no problem with that.”

Colette was the co-author of a report last year on police relations with the media and also sits on the police committee dealing with the Leveson Inquiry into the press and the lessons to be learned. One of the key principles of the report states: ‘The press and other forms of media play an important part in assuring police legitimacy and protecting the public interest.’

And are you staying.

“I have a five year contract which I will fulfill.”

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