Beds police commissioner attends packed Shefford crime meeting
PUBLISHED: 11:10 12 January 2018 | UPDATED: 13:26 12 January 2018
Bedfordshire's police and crime commissioner met campaigners in Shefford last night after they called for action against anti-social thugs.
The room was packed full when Kathryn Holloway and senior operational police chiefs met 180 members of the public at Shefford Town Council on Thursday night.
The meeting, one of the largest in Shefford in recent years, was called last month after more than 1,900 people signed a petition calling for Mrs Holloway to discuss concerns about a gang of thugs described as “terrorising our small town”, with reported assaults, stabbings and more.
Arrests and an increased police presence has seen the problem significantly diminished.
Campaigner Lee Searle, who chaired the meeting, told the Comet some 1,127 people had applied for tickets – prompting them to stream the event online.
Mrs Holloway told the meeting: “Bedfordshire Police have spent months putting together cases that are now going through the criminal justice system, to bring these individuals to justice – who have caused an enormous difficulty for you and created an atmosphere of fear at times in this town, particularly for elderly residents.”
She urged her audience not to say anything that could prejudice the court proceedings, adding: “I am in the business of supporting the police to make sure that those who are responsible for this are prosecuted with the full weight of the law.”
Mr Searle said afterwards: “It was a very positive meeting, and wonderful to have questions both from those in the hall and those online. The comments made gave much food for thought and, in some cases, gave some assurance.
“I’d say the highlight was hearing from the senior operational police chiefs who attended – hearing more from them about CCTV, our ASBO officer, how police are involved in new development decisions, and discussions over council tax and extra police funding.
“This is a long-term problem which the PCC indicated was partly due to a lack of government funding.”
It had been expected that Mid Bedfordshire MP Nadine Dorries would be at the meeting, but there was widespread disappointment when she failed to appear.
Mr Searle said her office had shown support for the event and that the campaigners had been led to believe she would be attending.
“No-one from her office contacted me to say she would not be attending,” he said.
“However, we found out they did inform the PCC’s office but didn’t have the courtesy to make the same call to the people she represents.
“Residents in Shefford have taken to social media in disappointment, especially as she was seen earlier in the day on TV discussing Big Brother.”
The Comet has contacted Ms Dorries for comment.