Bedfordshire Police rated ‘good’ for tackling organised crime

Bedfordshire Police has been rated as ‘good’ for the way it tackles serious and organised crime, with the force leading the way across the region for tackling County Lines, modern slavery and gun crime.

May 19, 2023
By Paul Jacques
Chief Constable Trevor Rodenhurst

The report by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) praised the force’s leadership, work with partners and activity to prevent organised crime as key aspects of its comprehensive plan to tackle these issues.

Bedfordshire Police is the lead force for the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), which coordinates the response to serious and organised crime across the region. The ERSOU was also rated good by HMICFRS, which highlighted its “specialist capabilities and work pursuing some of the region’s most dangerous offenders” (see

Bedfordshire Police Chief Constable Trevor Rodenhurst, who is the national lead for regional organised crime units, said: “Organised crime is the most significant national security threat we face in the UK.

“It is the driver of serious violence, exploits the vulnerable and the young and costs the economy billions of pounds every year.

“Serious and organised crime includes a range of serious criminality including people trafficking, gun crime and drugs trafficking, and has a direct link to young people being exploited and drawn into gangs and anti-social behaviour.

“I am incredibly proud to see this positive recognition of our approach here in Bedfordshire. We face significant challenges from this threat and with our partners have prioritised our response to criminals who engage in organised crime in order to protect our communities.

“I believe we have continued to make further progress since this inspection and we will not rest in our efforts to pursue and disrupt organised crime in our county.

“We are currently working with communities and partners to rid neighbourhoods who have historically suffered from organised crime through a collective enforcement and problem solving approach known as clear hold build.”

The report by HMICFRS praised the “clear leadership, high awareness of issues among community officers and good analysis of organised crime threats” as key pillars of the work underway in Bedfordshire.

Bedfordshire Police has a dedicated serious and organised crime team, which works to improve the force’s response to issues, maintaining an ongoing action plan as well as delivering support and training to officers and partners who manage individual organised crime groups.

In the year to May 31, 2022, the force carried out 248 disruptions against organised crime gangs.

Almost three quarters of these were focused on enforcement, with the force having specialist teams including its Boson guns and gangs unit and Operation Costello committed to tackling serious offenders.

Illegal drugs worth at least £4.3 million were taken off the streets of the county last year, as the force seized almost 23kg of cocaine and heroin and 6,500 cannabis plants.

Operation Costello has secured jail terms of more than 300 years for serious offenders, while the force’s Boson unit has taken more than 50 firearms off the streets since 2018.

The force’s disruption work also included the highest number and proportion in the region of disruptions focused on prevention, such as engaging with communities to try to prevent people from becoming involved in organised crime in the first place.

The force has ring-fenced 67 police constables and 43 police community officers, along with dedicated school officers, to support prevention work with children from as young as ten years old.

Bedfordshire has pioneered the ‘clear hold build concept’ through the Dallow Cares project, with police working in tandem with existing community partnerships to tackle the issues that matter most to local communities in the area.

The report also praised the force’s collaboration with the county’s Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit, which works with young people and their families at risk of getting involved in activities such as County Lines, as well as the multi-agency Bedfordshire Against Violence and Exploitation campaign.

Bedfordshire Police said since the inspection, it has more than doubled the amount of disruption activity it carries out against organised crime.

Bedfordshire police and crime commissioner (PCC) Festus Akinbusoye said: “This is tremendous recognition for the tireless work our officers, staff and partner organisations are doing to tackle the most serious criminality we face in Bedfordshire.

“I was clear when I became PCC that I wanted our enforcement activity against organised crime gangs to be teamed with an outstanding prevention-based approach to crime reduction and community safety.

“This report is an excellent endorsement of this approach here in Bedfordshire – but I want to see us do even more of this activity and create a sustainable long term solution that will reduce organised crime and the corrosive impact it has on our communities.”

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