Police welcome new chair of stop and search community scrutiny panel
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The new chair of the independent panel which scrutinises how police carry out stop and search in Bedfordshire has vowed to keep holding the force to account.
Natasha Clewley has been appointed as the new head of Bedfordshire’s respected stop and search community scrutiny panel, following a recruitment process by the county’s police and crime commissioner.
The panel has played a crucial role in helping Bedfordshire Police become one of the country’s best performing forces around stop and search, under the leadership of former chair Montell Neufville.
Bedfordshire is the best performing police force in the country in terms of carrying out stop and searches with reasonable grounds, as well as having among the lowest levels of disproportionality when it comes to use of these powers.
“I’m really honoured to have the opportunity to contribute to the continued success of such a critical and respected function,” said Ms Clewley.
“I look forward to working alongside the police and our communities to build and maintain the trust and confidence of people in how stop and search is used here in Bedfordshire.”
Ms Clewley comes to the voluntary role after working in areas such as mental health, community projects and education for the past 15 years.
Superintendent Ian Taylor, Bedfordshire Police’s lead for stop and search, said: “Every police officer in Bedfordshire knows how important it is to use stop and search in a fair, reasonable and proportionate way.
“As well as our ongoing training for officers, the independent oversight provided by our community has played a crucial part in driving forward the improvements we have made in this area
“The feedback that we receive from the scrutiny panel will enable us to continue to improve in this area, leading to increased confidence amongst our communities.
“I welcome Natasha’s appointment and have no doubt she will continue to ensure our communities can trust how stop and search is used in the county.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Festus Akinbusoye added: “Stop and search is one of the important tools our police officers have to tackle crime in our communities. Its effective and legitimate use will save lives in Bedfordshire.
“However, I recognise the concerns about the disproportionate use of stop and search, which is why it is vital they must be applied correctly.
“Bedfordshire Police leads the nation in this area of policing following years of concerted effort. I am sure Natasha and the rest of the community scrutiny panel will ensure this record continues to improve.”