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Too cash-strapped to fight terror? Bedfordshire PCC says his force needs more resources

Olly Martins, Bedfordshire's PCC Credit: ITV Anglia

Bedfordshire's Police and Crime Commissioner Olly Martins has written to the Prime Minister asking for more money to fight terror.

In the letter, Martins says there's a 'very real danger of the force being a weak link in the nation's security'.

His request comes after the terror attacks in Paris last Friday.

I feel compelled to once again draw your attention to the inadequate funding of Bedfordshire Police and the very real danger of the force being a weak link in the nation's security, a fear which is only heightened by last week's horrific events."

– Olly Martins, in a letter to the Prime Minister

Bedfordshire Police say the county has one of the highest concentrations of dangerous and active Islamic extremists in the country, the fourth highest level of gun crime, fifth highest level of serious crime and seventh for knife crime yet the force has the second lowest overall budget in the country.

A number of high profile anti-terrorism operations have been carried out in the county in recent years. Most recently an entire family of 12 from Luton disappeared are now believed to be living in Syria.

A family of 12 from Luton who fled to Syria Credit: Beds Police

Although Bedfordshire admits it has received extra money for intelligence services, it says that's only part of the solution. They say what's needed are more officers on the street to engage in preventative policing and strengthen the relationship between those officers and their communities to get to potentially vulnerable people before they might become radicalised.

But not everyone is convinced. Dr Mil Hills, a security expert at Northampton University, says Bedfordshire is no more multicultural than any other areas of the country - and therefore has no claim on extra funding.

I think the claim that they're a very multicultural area and therefore have particular problems is a bit weak because which large area of the UK isn't multi-cultural anymore so that's a tough sell to make to Government to get more money and also they're close enough to London that a lot of the additional technical expert resources they might need already in the Met Police so could presumably be drawn upon if anything happens in Bedfordshire."

– Dr Mils Hills, University of Northampton

Members of Bedfordshire's Police Force have warned about this problem before - Chief Constable Jon Boutcher warned a lack of funding could have "stark consequences" for the force's ability to tackle national security threats.

Click below to watch the full report from ITV News Anglia's Sarah Beecroft