Beds, Herts & Bucks

Bedfordshire chief constable: Gun crime major issue

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Media captionBedfordshire Chief Constable Colette Paul said she would not be ruling out any action to combat gun crime

Gun crime is one of the major issues faced by Bedfordshire's incoming chief constable Colette Paul.

Recruited from the South Wales force where she was deputy chief constable Ms Paul comes to a county that has seen 10 shooting deaths this year.

The force is working hard on the issue and many arrests had been made, she said.

But she added resources could not just be committed to this issue as rural crime also had to be addressed.

Ms Paul has taken control of one of the smallest police forces in England. The county includes rural and urban areas and has a population of about 600,000 people.

Bedfordshire Police has about 1,200 officers and 124 police and community support officers (PCSOs), supported by more than 200 volunteer special constables.

Like the rest of the public sector, Bedfordshire Police is facing reduced funding, with a budget cut of £19m (about 20%) between 2011 and 2015.

'Being brave'

She said: "There is no doubt that policing continues to operate in a challenging financial environment, but Bedfordshire has already proved that it can make the necessary savings whilst also reducing crime."

Although still being briefed on her first day, she told BBC News her approach was "not to rule anything out" especially on gun crime and using armed police on the streets of places like Luton.

"I'm keeping an open mind but really the public has to help with this as well. We've got a lot of information and are gathering evidence.

"That means people making statements and being brave and bold. We will support them in any way we can."

But she pledged not to concentrate just on Luton and wants the force to look at rural crime issues as well.

Recently awarded a Queen's Police Medal, Ms Paul has served with the Metropolitan and Essex Police forces.

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