Bedfordshire’s new Chief Constable has vowed to be tough on criminals and make better use of technology to deliver a first-class service to the public.
Trevor Rodenhurst made the pledge after being formally approved by the county’s Police and Crime Panel on Monday evening (12 December). The former Deputy Chief Constable has been Acting Chief since being made Police and Crime Commissioner Festus Akinbusoye’s preferred candidate last month.
Mr Rodenhurst has a background in tackling serious organised crime, previously leading the Eastern Regional Special Operations Unit and is currently the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Regional Organised Crime Units and Undercover Policing.
“People won’t be surprised to hear that one of my focuses is to be tough on crime, making Bedfordshire an unwelcome place for criminals", he said.
“I want us to have a real perpetrator focus, targeting those who cause the most harm. But it must be done in the right way, based on evidence and targeted, to prevent over-policing any of our communities.
“We also must ensure we keep victims at the heart of every investigation, acting with compassion and providing them with the support and care they need."
Despite its funding challenges, Bedfordshire Police has been innovative in its approach to tackling a range of crime, including successfully bidding for government Special Grants to roll out its Boson team, which targets gangs and gun crime, county-wide, and creating Operation Costello to respond to networks uncovered through the dismantling of Encrochat platform used by criminals – which has already led to more than 200 years of jail time for drugs and arms dealers.
The force was recently praised in a report by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) for its use of digital vans which allow fast-time downloading of devices, saving a huge amount of time for investigators and also enabling devices to be returned quickly.
He said: “I want us to make the best use of technology to improve our effectiveness. Tech is such an important part of all our lives now and policing has a lot to do to catch up. We’ve made a great start in Bedfordshire by introducing digi vans and are piloting some more exciting tools, but we’ve only just started scratching the surface.
"I’m also a great believer in the strength of collective effort so will be looking to build on the excellent relationships we have with our three local authorities, health and blue light services. There is much more we can do as a partnership and I’m keen to continue this Team Bedfordshire approach, which includes working closely with all our communities to problem solve together and be better at preventing crime."
However, one of his first challenges will be to develop one of the youngest workforces in UK policing.
Mr Rodenhurst said: “The recent national Uplift recruitment drive means that we currently have around 400 student officers in their first two years of service – which, due to the size of our force, is a significant portion of our workforce. It is great to have young and enthusiastic people coming in, full of innovative ideas, but it will require investment of time and effort for support and training.
"We’ve designed a Student Hub to help them on that journey, and will look to learn from their experiences to foster an inclusive environment to continue attracting the very best people across all of our communities to join Bedfordshire Police and make a difference.
“I’m confident our communities will soon start feeling the benefit of these new recruits as they transition from the classroom and out onto our front line."