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  1. Departing Beds chief Jon Boutcher fires one last broadside across Tory government's bows. Retiring shot: Bedfordshire chief Jon Boutcher is stepping down in July Date - 9th April 2019 By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle 5 Comments One of policing’s “exceptional” leaders of arguably the most over-stretched force in the UK has used his retirement announcement to castigate the government for allowing the service to remain “hugely underfunded”. And departing Bedfordshire chief Jon Boutcher says his own force is no longer capable of “protecting its citizens”. The chief constable, credited with values that are “part of its DNA “, claims the force has been – and remains – the worst-hit in the country, battling the “most challenging and complex demands” normally only faced by metropolitan forces. A historical resources gap has “still not been addressed”, according to CC Boutcher, who intends to step down after 35 years in the service on July 5. His comments are certain to reignite the simmering row linking rising violent crime and dwindling officer numbers which has fractured the working relationship between all levels of policing and Theresa May’s government. In February the row came to the boil in Parliament as MPs were told of his angst when he “literally ran out of officers” on a 'demanding' Sunday – and had to say ‘no’ to policing the people. A catalogue of serious incidents – a teenage murder, four rapes, stabbings outside a takeaway, a shooting, five prison officers assaulted in a riot and a fatal road accident – brought the Bedfordshire force to a standstill on September 16. MP Andrew Selous recounted the story – told to him by CC Boutcher in a letter – as the House of Commons discussed funding for forces in England and Wales. Home Secretary Sajid Javid had to off a barrage of protests in the Commons, claiming it was "too lazy" to blame a drop in police numbers for rising crime and instead suggesting the rise in serious violence, cyber crime and reporting of sexual offences could not be attributed to one factor. Now in a direct assault on the Tory policymakers, the Bedfordshire chief argued: “Policing remains hugely underfunded and Bedfordshire Police provides the most profound example of this as a force with the most challenging and complex demands normally only faced by metropolitan forces such as the Met, West Midlands and the like, and yet the funding gap has still not been addressed. “I recognise recent efforts by the current Home Secretary and policing minister to reverse a long standing lack of police investment. “However, I would remind everyone that it is the first responsibility of government to protect its citizens, policing must be properly funded. “The consequences of previous budgetary decisions are now being felt by all of our communities, this must be addressed.” The chief constable’s reign at Bedfordshire has been rich in controversy as well as achievement. In March 2017 he publicly criticised a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary which rated his force as the worst in the country for keeping people safe and reducing crime. It identified “systemic failings”, and deemed overall service provision “inadequate”, a drop from the previous year’s assessment of ‘good’. In response, he claimed: "My officers cannot cope with the demand and no-one seems to be listening. Something is going to give. Things cannot go on as they are. My officers are exhausted. "I can't tell you why they aren't listening. I can only assume it is political." Violent crime has worsened markedly in Bedfordshire in recent years, increasing by 57 per cent since 2010. In total, 10,947 violent crimes were recorded in the county last year. New figures suggest the force’s numerical fortunes may be on the turn Home Office data shows that the force had 1,148 officers last September, 12 more than the year before, the second consecutive annual rise. In December it was announced that Bedfordshire would be given an extra £8 million of funding, allowing it to recruit 260 new officers. And in spite of the force’s travails, the retiring chief exudes positivity in his ‘leaving’ declaration – presenting an update message for the future. He stated: “I have been incredibly fortunate to have had such a wonderful policing career, but being chief constable of Bedfordshire has been the highlight – without question. “The force is fantastic and it has been a privilege to be chief constable during this period which has seen us improve across the board. “Bedfordshire as a force had previously faced criticism over many years, but that is no longer the position. “We have gone from being under special scrutiny and supposedly the one of the ‘worst’ performing forces in the country according to Her Majesty Inspectorate of Constabulary, to no longer being subject to that additional HMICFRS scrutiny. “In fact we now have positive HMICFRS reports, with forces now coming here from all over the country, and indeed overseas, to see the brilliant work we are doing. Bedfordshire police and crime commissioner Kathryn Holloway, who will be responsible for appointing his successor, was fulsome in her praise of the departing chief. She said: "I believe he will be recognised as an exceptional chief in the history of Bedfordshire Police including his genuine focus on boosting diversity in recruitment. “His values are part of the DNA of the force and he leaves a strong legacy. "He has established a culture within the force and a personal leadership style where the buck stops with him that I will be looking to when recruiting his replacement - a true leader linked to our communities and committed to community policing. “It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to work shoulder-to-shoulder with the outstanding Jon Boutcher over the last three years. “I know that whatever he’s doing, wherever he is in the world, he’ll continue to stand up publicly for Bedfordshire Police.” CC Boutcher has devoted 35 years of his working life to policing, 28 as a detective with the Met. He worked on the Regional and National Crime Squad, targeting serious and organised crime groups with links to international criminal networks. He was also part of the Met’s Flying Squad before becoming a leading counter terrorism senior investigating officer dealing with numerous national and international operations. He joined Bedfordshire in 2014 and took over as chief constable the following year. CC Boutcher is also the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for race and religion and exudes pride at being one of the top performing forces when it comes to recruiting from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. He added: “The work we are doing to attract candidates to ensure we are reflective of the communities we serve has been held up as best practice and is something I am utterly passionate about. “Policing is the most incredible profession and it should be ‘open’ to people from all communities, we must represent the people we serve. “That is just one example of the super work the force is doing, pushing boundaries, using innovation and striving to provide the very best service possible.” Retirement will not prevent him from carrying on leading Operation Kenova , an historic investigation into a number of alleged murders, kidnaps and tortures in Northern Ireland. And on a final note, he added: “The officers and staff of Bedfordshire Police do a wonderful job on a daily basis and I’d like to thank each and every one of them for their support during my time here. “I shall certainly be leaving with a heavy heart, but comforted by the knowledge that I’m leaving behind a super talented team who will continue to drive Bedfordshire Police forward.” View On Police Oracle
  2. Little to no hope funding pressures on police will be alleviated. Date - 11th October 2018 By - JJ Hutber- Police Oracle 5 Comments The police service should not expect a cash injection any time soon, an HMI said on Tuesday evening. HMI Matt Parr told the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel he believes current financial pressures will remain. He said: “I think police will be under financial pressure for the foreseeable future and if government spending as a whole increases it seems to me by no means certain even likely that one of the recipients of increased spending is going to be policing. “So I think the working assumption worth making is the degree of financial pressure that the forces are under is going to stay. “This is my personal view but the idea that there’s going to be a pot of gold suddenly produced that makes all our problems go away is wishful thinking.” Mr Parr said although the current formula is “not fit for purpose” it will be extremely difficult to agree a model everyone is happy with. “In my experience every chief constable publically says they are a victim of a harsh funding formula,” he said. “They all say that. I’m bring flippant but they all do. “Some of them mean it, some are justified in saying it. Others perhaps have convinced themselves it’s doing them harm- they know that they’re beneficiaries. “If you reformed it the losers are going to shout louder than the beneficiaries so it’s a really difficult thing.” He added the police service does not do itself any favours with its “defensive” tone. “There is a feeling which I think is probably true but there are other departments that are better at getting their act together before comprehensive spending rounds and making their case. “There is the view that policing is not very good at articulating how the country gets value for money and what the consequences would be of long term national settlements.” Mr Parr is the HMI who approves all special grant applications, which are intended for unforeseeable major incidents, told the panel he is concerned the stipend will be cut as too many forces are applying. Bedfordshire Police is planning to submit a special grant request for help with child sexual exploitation investigations and Mr Parr said he intends to write a covering note saying “you want to be careful with this because if you approve this you are changing what special grants are for”. “I think Jon’s [Chief Constable Jon Boutcher] been very clever in bullying the minister into agreeing to this. “We used to get two or three applications a year now we’re getting one a month maybe more because all forces are under pressure they’re all putting in special grants. “For example the Met used to find it impossible to put a grant in because the rule is you’ve got to spend one per cent of your budget or something like that. “The Home Office have given them a bit of leeway and said you can blob up events and two or three events in a series, combine them together and we’ll look at it. It used to be against the rules. “So the thing to remember about special grants is that it’s not a big pot of money, it’s just top sliced off the overall grant. “It’s not a panacea to everyone’s problems and if everyone continues to use it they do at the moment all it will mean is that the grants get cut. Speaking the day after West Mercia and Warwickshire Police forces announced they were abandoning a close partnership, Mr Parr said he still does not believe policing “has even scratched the surface of collaboration and where it might go”. “I’m not talking about amalgamations, I’m not talking about alliances. “I’m talking about clever collaborations.” He said Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) have come a long way since it recommended a single police force ten years ago and believes the advent of police and crime commissioner has kicked the debate into the long grass. “It’s a dreadful cliché the idea of all policing is local there’s something about that something its there’s a point in that. “The challenge now is how do you limit the negative impact of a false boundary. I’d rather people concentrated on that then increased the collaboration.” Bedfordshire Police Chief Constable Jon Boutcher said Mr Parr has so far given him a “very fair” hearing and the two have a good relationship. But he said HMIC as an organisation needs to get off the fence and raise concerns about police budget cuts. “I do think the HMIC not have been as forthcoming as they should have been around policing to government and I see a worrying comparison with the prison service. “We’re sleepwalking into a public services challenge and policing is that service everyone else calls when no one else picks up the phone. “I do think the HMI have got a responsibility to be more vocal. “The pressures on policing at the moment are immense and I think we need to have a more open and informed debate. “One of the biggest challenges is Brexit. “Brexit’s taking a lot of the agenda for everybody at the moment but it feels to me issues in public service aren’t getting the air time they deserve." View On Police Oracle
  3. Ahead of the National Black Police Association conference in Belfast next week, CC Jon Boutcher says forces cannot afford to rest on their laurels on race and diversity. Bedfordshire Chief Constable Jon Boutcher Date - 5th October 2018 By - Martin Buhagiar - Police Oracle The NPCC lead for Race, Religion and Belief says the police service needs to learn from the lessons of history and improve the number of officers from diverse backgrounds within forces. In an exclusive interview with Police Oracle, Bedfordshire Police Chief Constable Jon Boutcher says some chiefs are wrong for mistakenly believing they do not have a race issue if their communities do not have a particularly large number of people from ethnic minority backgrounds. The former Metropolitan Police detective, who also worked on the Regional and National Crime Squad and Flying Squad, says he is determined to keep race at the top of the policing agenda. CC Boutcher said: “The difficulty we have is the race agenda gets the profile it deserves but only periodically. When we had the Brixton riots – race was the headline news story. We get the Scarman report and some work is carried out. Then it drops down and it drops down and it drops down and people are really busy with other things taking priority. All of a sudden we’ll have another key incident and race rises to the top again – another one will be the murder of Stephen Lawrence and the Macpherson review and report and the label of police being institutionally racist. We’ll do a little bit more work and some good work - a lot of people did a lot to try and improve things inside and out of policing - and then it drops down again. Another key moment might by the riots in 2011 and suddenly the race agenda is at the forefront but drops down again. “It feels to me that policing, and society, keeps failing to learn the lessons of history. We have got to make sure that, because we live in such a multi-cultural society, the race agenda retains the level of primacy and priority it deserves. We need to make sure we don’t keep having these peaks and troughs around incidents where we got things wrong. “If we fail to learn the lessons, you repeat the errors of history. Hopefully that is what part of this conference will be about.” CC Boutcher has met resistance in some areas from chiefs who do not believe this issue should be at the top of their agenda and says he will continue to fight to ensure forces see this as a priority. “Diversity within the police service has been improving year on year but it is a tiny amount nationally,” he adds. “If you think simply about the factors of people retiring and then people joining the organisation, it is more likely today that people will join from diverse backgrounds than it was 30 years ago and that is what we are seeing – that is the bare minimum. But not enough police forces are doing enough to proactively recruit from diverse backgrounds. It is a real dilemma. Chief constables have a difficult job - although people won’t believe that – there is so much in the in-tray. “But when I speak to some chiefs they say ‘Jon, race is not an issue in my force’. “One chief said to me ‘race is not an issue at all because I have not got a particularly diverse community’. “I get that - but what about county lines? We’ve seen some real challenges with diverse communities and CSE offences. Now CSE impacts every community, but we have seen some challenges around certain Asian communities. We have looked after children being moved from county area to county area from often deprived and diverse backgrounds. Cyber-crime, online crime – I could go on. For any chief to now say race isn’t an issue in my back yard, I think they are just out with the world today – it effects everybody and that is the challenge for me and others who have very much got this at the forefront of our thinking to try and bring people with us. “It is always difficult when you have got 43 chief constables to win a consensus. Getting an agreement that race should be a priority - that’s hard enough on its own. Then whatever agreement you get is at the lowest common denominator of all of those chiefs, which often completely degrades what you are trying to achieve – that is a real challenge. The conference is an opportunity to talk about these issues and invite representations from diverse backgrounds." During the interview CC Boutcher spoke of his honour of having the “best job in the world” but says he fears many people from diverse communities will not be able to embark on a similar career path because of their backgrounds. He added: “I am approaching 35 years’ service – although it looks like I’ve got 90 years – and it has been a privilege being a police officer. Keeping people safe is an incredible honour. “But it is also a sad reality that the police service has often been seen as out of reach for some in our communities and is or has been a job they would never consider. “I see this as the best job in the world, the feeling that I have – I have changed somebody’s life for the better, I stopped that abuse happening or I have helped that family. But, we have also been a predominantly white, male service. “Some of that is because of community issues we have had in the past. I was an officer in London where we had lots of different incidents and there have been some real challenges between black and Asian gang members and the police. “We saw the riots following the Mark Duggan shooting in 2011 and the escalation that followed there in London and then nationally. What you will see there is the stereotypical line of white police officers facing members of the community - which will be faces of all backgrounds, colours, cultures and ethnicity. “It feels to me that this profession of ours should absolutely reflect the communities we serve. How can we have the confidence of communities who we want to talk to us about FGM, honour-based crime or whatever else if we have not got members of the force from those communities to understand the background or context of it? Or even understand the culture that has allowed that to happen in those communities?” Several years ago CC Boutcher “empowered” select officers with the target of improving diversity within the force and even faced the wrath of communities who had not always seen eye-to-eye with the service. He added: “Having become a chief it suddenly struck me I was in charge and maybe I could do something about this. “I took a couple of police officers who I knew would get this, empowered them and gave them the role of leading recruitment from diverse backgrounds into the force. I held public meetings with people from diverse communities encouraging them to join the force. I was told nobody would turn up but it was standing room only. The first meetings were challenging because there have been some real issues in Bedfordshire. We have had death in custody tragedies that have occurred and those people who have died have been from our diverse communities. “There was a background, in Luton in particular, of mistrust but the meetings were really encouraging and people just wanted to listen. Of course at the first couple of meetings there was the usual criticism towards me, ‘the police is racist, why would we join a racist organisation’ but then they listened. “I said: ‘If you’re saying that, why don’t you come and try and change it then?’ “Now when we now have those events we have tables of police officers who have got two or three years’ service, who were at those meetings at the beginning, listening to what I was saying, and now they sit there talking to those young people about their journey. They tell their story.” Due to his push to improve diversity within his force – and nationally – the Beds Chief has also faced claims that he is anti-white or has lowered standards within the force. He said: “I talk about changing the face of policing, not in a way in which I am critical of what came before, because I think the men and women who serve have always tried to do their best for the public and policing. But we haven’t got it right around the make-up of the organisation for the communities that often have got a level of concern about the way the police treat their communities. “In Bedfordshire we are now officially second in our make-up of black and minority ethnic police officers. I think we are just over 10.5 per cent now. We started this work three years ago when we were just over five per cent. The Met is at 14 per cent and has been for a couple of years. “West Midlands are third I think at ten per cent while 30 per cent of its community are BME, ours is 23.5 per cent and the Met is 40 per cent. “I would expect us to be equal or beyond the Met at the current rate of progress. There have been claims that I am being anti-white or lowering standards by some officers who just see this as the wrong direction. It is not the wrong direction, it is the right direction but they have not seen the collateral of not getting this right. “We have raised standards around recruitment. Normally we now have people from our diverse communities along with a senior police officer on our interviewing panel. There is the obvious concern that you recruit in your own image and often a recruitment board will be two white men, so we have changed that. “Because of all that context, progression and retention is important. We have got to make sure we promote officers who are talented and should be promoted and we have got to help others progress into specialist areas when they are good enough to do that. “That is also why I think this conference is really important. We raise the agenda around race to increase internal confidence of those from BAME backgrounds throughout the organisation. “Lots of statistics show that there is a disproportionality around those from BAME backgrounds that face disciplinary hearings and those who leave the organisation so we need to understand that and, where we got that wrong, we need to address that. This is part of the work I am doing and there will be conversations around that in and out of conference. It should also be a celebration of the work carried out by the National Black Police Association which has worked tirelessly to promote the issues that I feel very passionately about.” A final area of improvement is the number of black women within the service. There are believed to be 13 forces who do not have a black, female police officer within their ranks. CC Boutcher says attracting women from diverse backgrounds to the job is a difficult task but one he has experience in. “It is a challenge – it is not just about placing an advert and speaking favourably about wanting to recruit from diverse backgrounds," he adds. "You have got to live and breathe it, you can’t just talk the talk, you have to get out and walk the walk. Macpherson was all about leadership, stepping in, we’re all leaders – everybody in the organisation. “When people come along to look at Bedfordshire Police they know it is not cosmetic, notional or short term - this is a way of life for the force. “There is a concern over the lack of black females in policing. There are a number of forces, 13 I believe, who do not have a black female officer. We need to understand the challenges, the issues. “We had a young Asian woman who was in a police staff role and I spoke to her about becoming a police officer. She said she could not become a police officer because her dad didn’t realise what she did and, because of her culture, her father would not be comfortable with her interviewing men. He would not accept her arresting men, interviewing men, and having significantly dealings with men. “I offered to talk to him and she didn’t think that would help. She is now a police officer and this reflects, even in the last two or three years, the reality of the situation. Her reality. Some will say that is just ridiculous but that is her reality and these are the challenges she has faced to join us.” The National Black Police Association conference and AGM is being held in Belfast from October 9-11th. View On  Police Oracle

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