Fri 13 December 2019

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Bedfordshire wins major Government grant for new initiative to tackle serious violence

Alert message sent 25/06/2019 16:08:00

Information sent on behalf of Bedfordshire Police

Bedfordshire Police and our partners have won almost £1 million from the Home Office to set up a specialist Violence Reduction Unit to work together to combat gun, gang and knife crime.

The pioneering proposals will bring together police, local government, health, community leaders and other key partners to tackle violent crime and its underlying causes.

The Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) will be responsible for identifying the drivers of serious violence in the county and developing a coordinated response to tackle them.

Local areas across England and Wales are starting to take a public health approach to prevent serious violence by addressing the issues that cause violent behaviour in the first place, based on a successful strategy in Glasgow.

Bedfordshire has been awarded £880,000 by the Home Office to establish its unit, the third major funding award that we have secured from Government in a matter of months.

It follows a Special Grant of £4.571 million to pay for the activity of our specialist gun, gang and knife team, Op Boson and £1.38 million to provide extra patrols, intelligence data-gathering and community projects.

Our Assistant Chief Constable, Jackie Sebire, who is also the National Police Chiefs Council’s portfolio lead for serious violence, was instrumental in securing the funding for Bedfordshire.

“I know all too well the challenges police forces across the country face in this area and Bedfordshire is no exception,” she said.

“I’m a huge believer in the need for a whole system approach to tackle knife crime and serious youth violence.

"We need to tackle the root causes underpinning violence, which is driven by the drugs market, fear of crime, lack of opportunities and adverse childhood experiences.

“That’s why I am so glad all our partners have come together to back this bid and establish a truly collaborative, multi-agency project.

“With all our collective resources and wills pulling in the same direction, I believe we can have a huge impact on communities across Bedfordshire.”

We are one of 18 forces across the country being awarded Government funding to tackle knife crime and serious violence.

The other most recent grant of £1.38 million to fight such crime also comes from the £100 million Serious Violence Fund announced by the Government in March 2019, as part of its continued action to crack down on violent crime.

Late last year, ministers agreed to award the separate £4.571m Special Grant covering the unprecedented costs of Bedfordshire Police’s Boson team in fighting organised crime and gang violence over three years, including 2018-19.

Policing Minister, Nick Hurd, has also now given Kathryn Holloway, Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, written assurances that Boson will receive Government funding again through the same scheme later this year.

“It’s absolutely fantastic news that the Home Office has recognised, yet again, the challenges facing Bedfordshire Police in fighting this area of crime, which is particularly hard to tackle with both the Violence Reduction Unit funding and the guarantee of a second Special Grant this year,"  said Commissioner Holloway.

“Reaching the young people who are caught up in the spiral of knife carrying, gun use and gang violence is tough to do and, for prevention rather than enforcement, I’ve never believed that the police or my office were the right ones to take the lead, given the low levels of trust among this group. It’s a public health problem and an issue for us all.

“This does not mean of course that enforcement stops, and the frankly superb results of the Boson team, achieving 148 years in prison terms for involvement in this sort of violence over the last year, proves Bedfordshire Police are absolutely not taking their eyes off the ball in this respect.

“This grant, on top of the Special Grant for last year and that we now anticipate for 2019-20, proves my argument and that of the Chief Constable, Jon Boutcher, have truly landed at the Home Office; that Bedfordshire Police is definitely not funded through its core grant to meet all the very serious and complex crime challenges that it faces."

The move has also been welcomed by all three local authorities in Bedfordshire.

Cllr Hazel Simmons MBE, Leader of Luton Council, said: “I am deeply saddened by every incident of knife crime and serious violence that occurs. This epidemic is gripping the whole country and has brought loss and tragedy to the streets of Luton. 

"I am concerned and, as Leader of Luton Council, I am determined to understand the factors that are bringing these incidents to our town.

“We are doing what we can to work with the police and other partners and so we welcome the Government funding for a Violence Reduction Unit. This will help us get to the causes of this senseless behaviour which ruins so many lives”. 

Cllr Ian Dalgarno, Central Bedfordshire Council’s Executive Member for Community Services, said: “We work closely with the police and other partners to keep our communities safe and we welcome this additional funding to help tackle the underlying causes of serious violence. 

"We hope it will help us to collectively make a real difference to our communities.”

Cllr Colleen Atkins, Portfolio holder for Community Safety at Bedford Borough Council, added: “Across Bedfordshire we’re taking the issue of knife crime and serious violence very seriously.

"This funding will assist us in our partnership work together as we tackle this blight on our communities.

"Alongside work to support the victims and their families affected by these violent and often life changing crimes, we look forward to this initiative having a real impact on reducing violent behaviour in the first place."
Message sent by
Jon Vale (Police, Communications Officer, County)

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