£1million boost for fight against gun, gang and knife crime

Sussex Police
Sussex Police

A specialist police unit is to be set up to tackle gun, gang and knife crime in Bedfordshire, following the award of a £880,000 Home Office grant.

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.

Described as a pioneering project, it will bring together police, local government, health, community leaders and other key partners.

Bedfordshire Police’s 
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.

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.”

This is the third major funding award that police have secured from government in recent months.

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

It also comes after the Times & Citizen began 
campaigning last year for 
fairer funding for Beds Police, in the context of rising violent crime across the county.

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.”

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 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”.