Bedfordshire Police

Bedfordshire Police is the territorial police force responsible for policing the ceremonial county of Bedfordshire in England, which includes the unitary authorities of Bedford, Central Bedfordshire and Luton. Its headquarters are in Kempston, Bedfordshire.

Bedfordshire Police
MottoFighting crime, protecting the public
Agency overview
Preceding agencies
  • Bedfordshire Constabulary
  • Luton Borough Police
Annual budget£127.4 million[1]
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionBedfordshire, England
Map of police area
Size477 square miles (1,240 km2)[2]
General nature
Operational structure
Overviewed by
Police officers1,317 (2020)[3]
Special constables151 (2020)[3]
Police and Crime Commissioner responsible
Agency executive
  • Garry Forsyth, Chief constable

As of September 2020, the force has 1,317 police officers, 151 special constables, and 1,084 staff.[3] It covers an area of 477 square miles (1,240 km2),[2] with a population of 665,000.[1]


A professional police force was established in Bedfordshire in 1839, under the County Police Act 1839, replacing the earlier system of elected parish constables. It initially comprised a chief constable, who was based in Ampthill, 6 superintendents and 40 constables. Constables were paid 19 shillings a week, which was nearly twice the typical wage of an agricultural labourer in the county at that time.[4]

There was an independent Luton Borough Police from 1876 to 1947, and then from 1964 to 1966, when it amalgamated with Bedfordshire Constabulary, which was then known as the Bedfordshire and Luton Constabulary until 1974. In 1965, Bedfordshire Constabulary had an establishment of 497 and an actual strength of 430.[5]

On 11 June 2007, PC Jon Henry, was fatally stabbed whilst on duty in the town centre of Luton by a Nigerian immigrant, Tennyson Obih. Obih was convicted of his murder, along with the attempted murder and wounding with intent of two other men that he stabbed on the same morning.[6]

Chief constables

  • 1840–1871 : Captain Edward M. Boultbee (first chief constable of Bedfordshire)
  • 1871–1879 : Major Ashton Cromwell Warner
  • 1880–1910 : Lieutenant-Colonel Frederick J. Josselyn
  • 1910–1939 : Lt-Colonel Frank Augustus Douglas Stevens, (accidentally shot in October 1939)
  • 1939–?? : Commander the Hon. R. D. Coleridge
  • 1940–1953 : Commander William John Adlam Willis
  • 1953–1966 : ???
  • 1966–1971 : Henry Prichard Pratt
  • 1971–1979 : Anthony Armstrong
  • 1979–1983 : William Sutherland
  • 1983–1985 : Sir Andrew Kirkpatrick Sloan
  • 1985–1996 : Alan Dyer[7] (10th chief constable of Bedfordshire)
  • 1996–2001 : Michael O'Byrne
  • 2001–2005 : Paul Hancock[8]
  • 2005–2010 : Gillian Parker
  • 2011–2013 : Alf Hitchcock
  • 2013–2015 : Collette Paul
  • 2015–2019 : Jon Boutcher
  • 2019–present : Garry Forsyth


Bedfordshire Police has collaborated in the formation of several specialist units with Hertfordshire Constabulary and Cambridgeshire Constabulary including Major Crime, Dogs, Firearms and Roads Policing.

The force also leads regional units including Eastern Region Special Operations Unit and Eastern Counter Terrorism Intelligence Unit with forces in Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.

In June 2015, the force implemented a new operating model – which comprises north and south bases and aims to increase the number of warranted officers in local communities.

Initiatives and controversies

Bedfordshire Police publish results of cases on their official website, such as a drug gang who were jailed for 39 years.[9]

In 2014, Bedfordshire Police allowed cameras into the force 24/7 to film a fly-on-the-wall documentary, 24 Hours in Police Custody, capturing some of the issues faced by police officers today. The last series ended in June 2016, but more episodes are planned for the near future.[10]

In July 2015, Bedfordshire Police was the first force in the country to secure a female genital mutilation (FGM) protection order. The court order allowed officers to seize the passports of two young girls who it was thought were being taken to Africa.[11]

In 2016, Bedfordshire Police's cadets scooped a national award for their outstanding contribution to helping to reduce crime and creating a safer community.[12]


The force's 202122 budget was set at £127.4 million.[1] Previously, in 2017, funding pressures meant that Bedfordshire Police had considered not responding to some low level crimes.[13] Kathryn Holloway stated that the force has made almost £35M in cuts and would face further cuts of £11.4M to £12.5M over the coming four years "if things remain unchanged".[14]

As of September 2020, the force has 1,317 police officers, 151 special constables, and 46 police community support officers (PCSO), 20 police support volunteers (PSV), and 1,084 staff.[3]


The first Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner was Olly Martins, who was elected on 15 November 2012 and took office on 21 November 2012. The performance of the police and crime commissioner (PCC) is scrutinised by the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel, made up of elected councillors from the local authorities in the police area, and two independent members. Before November 2012 the Bedfordshire Police Authority was the police governance. On 5 May 2016, Kathryn Holloway became the second PCC, after winning the vote against Olly Martins and other candidates.

Festus Akinbusoye was elected PCC in May 2021 election.[15] Akinbusoye assumed office on Thursday 13 May 2021[16]

The Office of Police and Crime Commissioner's permanent chief executive officer is Clare Kelly.

The "Our Force" control strategy determines operational priorities, helping Bedfordshire Police to protect people and fight crime.[17]


See also


  1. "Bedfordshire: 'Under-funded' police concerns prospective PCCs". BBC News. 3 May 2021. Retrieved 22 May 2021.
  2. "Overview: Bedfordshire Police". HMICFRS. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  3. "Data tables for 'Police workforce, England and Wales: 30 September 2020'". Home Office. 28 January 2021. Retrieved 22 May 2021.
  4. Joyce Godber, History of Bedfordshire 1066-1888, Bedfordshire County Council, 1969, reprinted 1984, ISBN 0-907041-27-2, pp 479, 538-539.
  5. The Thin Blue Line, Police Council for Great Britain Staff Side Claim for Undermanning Supplements, 1965.
  6. Nigerian charged with PC's murder, The Daily Telegraph, 24 March 2009.
  7. "Former Chief Constable dies at 71". Bedford Today. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  8. "Police chief announces retirement". BBC News. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  9. "24hrs in Police Custody". Archived from the original on 22 July 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  10. Rawlinson, Kevin (17 July 2015). "Police obtain first FGM protection order". The Guardian.
  11. "National Award". Archived from the original on 23 March 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  12. Police 'to give up on minor crimes without major funding increase' The Guardian
  13. "Bedfordshire Police 'may be forced to stop attending vehicle crime'".
  14. "Elections 2021: Conservative Festus Akinbosoye is new Bedfordshire PCC". BBC. Retrieved 20 May 2021.
  15. "Bedfordshire PCC ELECTION RESULTS – FESTUS AKINBUSOYE ELECTED". Retrieved 20 May 2021.
  16. "Control Strategy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 September 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2016.

Further reading

A. F. Richer, Bedfordshire Police 1840-1990, Paul Hooley, 1990, ISBN 0-905095-27-8.