A plan to strengthen community policing in Bedfordshire with Parish or Community Special Constables has been unanimously endorsed by Bedford Borough councillors.
In early 2015, Northamptonshire Police introduced ‘Parish Special Constables’ who are volunteer officers serving their specific communities only and do not get redeployed to deal with other pressures such as Northampton’s night time economy.
Harrold Ward Cllr Alison Foster has been monitoring the scheme and has been informed by Adam Simmonds, the Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner, that it has been a ‘hit’ with communities and volunteers.
Cllr Foster told the Bedfordshire on Sunday in August the scheme should be adopted by Bedfordshire Police. At Bedford Borough Council’s meeting on Wednesday evening (9th December), she outlined how the scheme would provide a low-cost, effective boost both to urban and rural areas where residents are concerned about a lack of police visibility.
The proposal received cross-party support and the Council’s Chief Executive will now write to Olly Martins, the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner to request the implementation of ‘Parish’ or ‘Community’ Special Constables serving their specific parishes or local communities.
Cllr Foster said:
‘Parish Special Constables are volunteers with all the powers of regular police officers. They have powers of arrest, to issue fines for speeding and stop speeding cars. These powers will be particularly useful in the rural areas which rarely see police officers and in Bedford itself where regular officers are sometimes too busy to deal with issues such as illegally parked cars and low level anti-social behaviour.
‘The introduction of Parish or Community Specials would provide a sustainable and relatively low cost solution to the lack of visible policing our residents complain of in the Borough. They would be able to provide reassurance by their presence in the community and knowledge of local issues.’