Bedfordshire police boss welcomes Home Office funding to tackle root causes of violence

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway has welcomed a Home Office commitment to fund violence reductions units across the country for at least another year - once spending plans have been rubber stamped.

The Home Office issued a grant of £880,000 to Bedfordshire’s PCC to set up the county’s new Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) in 2019, but this ran for a single year only, until April 2020.

The Commissioner has now been told that she can secure an additional £880,000 to fund the work of the VERU until April 2021, once the Home Office has approved the plan.

The VERU brings together organisations including police, local government, health, community leaders and other key partners to prevent serious violence - especially among young people - by understanding its root causes and addressing them together.

PCC Kathryn Holloway

“It’s the best possible New Year present to hear that the Home Office is dedicated to the on-going funding of these specialist units but this has to be a cautious welcome from me until the money is fully secured, of course," said commissioner Holloway

"Having been present during a recent visit to Bedfordshire’s quite outstanding new unit by Home Office officials and having spoken to them about their enthusiasm for our model - which is the only one to link the exploitation of vulnerable young people by gangs in its title - I had been optimistic, but we are now heading in precisely the right direction.”

Bedfordshire's three local authorities are key partners for the VERU and all have backed the additional funding.

Cllr Colleen Atkins, portfolio holder for Community Safety at Bedford Borough Council, said: “We welcome this grant for additional funding.

"The issue of knife crime and serious violence continues to be taken very seriously in Bedford and across Bedfordshire.

"We look forward to building on the partnership work with the Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit.”

Central Bedfordshire Council’s executive member for community services, Ian Dalgarno, said: “We welcome the Home Office’s decision to extend funding to our Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU).

"The impact that issues such as knife crime and criminal exploitation have on our communities are devastating, particularly on our most vulnerable residents and young people.

“We’re committed to working with our partners to help educate and prevent people from getting involved with or falling victim to serious violence."

Bedfordshire’s Youth Offending Service is also at the heart of the VERU and was instrumental in the unique inclusion of “exploitation” in the title of the specialist unit in this county.

The PCC will now submit a plan for the year ahead and announce a new round of community grant funding once this is agreed with the Home Office.