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The day a force had to say ?no? to policing its people

MPs told of a chief?s angst when he literally ran out of officers on a ?demanding? Sunday
Published - 06/02/2019 By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle

A catalogue of serious incidents saw an over-stretched force “literally run out of officers” one Sunday, shocked MPs have been told.

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, Parliament heard yesterday.

MP Andrew Selous recounted the story – told to him by Bedfordshire Chief Constable Jon Boutcher in a letter  – as the House of Commons discussed funding for forces in England and Wales.

Details of the “particularly demanding” Sunday September 16 last year were raised as Home Secretary Sajid Javid fended off a barrage of protests from MPs after he tried to play down links between rising violent crime and dwindling officer numbers.

The South West Bedfordshire MP said: “The chief constable wrote to me to say on one Sunday – the 16th of September last year – the force literally ran out of officers.

“They had to deal with seven teenagers stabbed in Luton, four rapes, five prison officers being assaulted at Bedford prison, a fatality in a road incident, a 16-year-old being murdered in Bedford, and gunshot wounds coming into Luton and Dunstable Hospital.

“That was a particularly demanding Sunday, but that level is not unusual as far as Bedfordshire is concerned.”

Politicians last night approved Mr Javid's funding plan for England and Wales' police forces.

Labour Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott accused Mr Javid of "passing the buck of funding the police service to the public", she said it was "no way to fund a cohesive police force".

In reply, Mr Javid claimed it was "too lazy" to blame a drop in police numbers for rising crime, amid pressure to further boost funding.

The Home Secretary faced repeated questions from Labour MPs who warned that there are 21,000 fewer officers in England and Wales compared to when the Conservatives came into power in 2010.

But Mr Javid dismissed suggestions of a direct link and instead said the rise in serious violence, cyber crime and reporting of sexual offences could not be attributed to one factor.

The exchanges came as MPs approved the 2019-20 police grant, which will see up to £970 million extra made available to forces.

As Police Oracle reported in December, council taxpayers are expected to fund more than half of the potential increase.

Police and crime commissioners will be allowed to ask for an additional £2 a month per band D household, which is expected to generate up to £509 million in extra funding if all areas take up the option.

In December the National Police Chiefs’ Council calculated inflation at £435m – virtually wiping out the government grant.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Javid said the settlement provides the "biggest increase in police funding since 2010" and explained it will help forces recruit extra officers that "they've told me they need".

Intervening, Labour MP Jack Dromey (Birmingham Erdington) said ministers seem "reluctant" to answer questions about the impact of a drop in police numbers since 2010.

He said: "Police numbers have fallen by 21,000, some 2,000 in the West Midlands.

"Crime is soaring.

"Is the Government seriously suggesting that there is no link between falling police numbers and increasing crime?"

Mr Javid replied: "Where you are right is that there is absolutely increases in certain types of crime.

"For example, as I mentioned earlier, in serious violence, in cybe

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