Beds Police awarded grant of over £7 million to tackle gang violence, exploitation and organised crime

Bedfordshire Police has been handed a government grant of over £7 million to tackle gangs and organised crime groups in the county.

Ministers have awarded the force more than £7 million in special grant funding to respond to the extraordinary challenges posed locally by organised crime.

The latest money comes in two batches of around £3.6 million.

One grant will pay for the force to run Operation Costello - its largest ever operation to tackle organised crime - over the next two years.

Beds Police

The second grant will cover the cost of Bedfordshire Police’s Boson guns and gangs team, which has so far been funded from a series of special grants.

Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Festus Akinbusoye said he was "delighted" to see the level of investment coming into the county.

He added: “But I remain adamant that while this funding is welcome and hugely needed, we cannot arrest our way out of this problem, nor can the current core funding arrangement continue.

“That’s why at the national level, I continue to engage with the Home Office on resolving the outdated funding formula for Bedfordshire.

"At the local level - my office continues to fund prevention and early intervention projects to address things like domestic abuse, drugs and alcohol addiction, as well as other known causes of criminality.”

Both grants cover 85 per cent of the costs bid made by the Police and Crime Commissioner's office.

Bedfordshire Police Chief Constable Garry Forsyth said: “There is a whole range of research and statistics that demonstrate the stark challenge we face here in Bedfordshire from gang violence, exploitation and organised crime.

“Yet for so long we have been fighting these challenges with one hand tied behind our back, with the funding formula failing to recognise the seriousness, volume and complexity of threat in our force area.

“We have argued this case repeatedly to ministers for a number of years and it is really pleasing to see this level of funding come into policing in Bedfordshire, after similar successes in the recent past.

“However, we will continue to argue for a longer term and more sustainable funding solution for us here in Bedfordshire, so we can continue this work over a number of years and really eradicate the systemic criminal networks operating in our county.”

Bedfordshire Police is one of 18 police forces to be given ‘grip’ funding to tackle serious youth violence, which used to be known as surge funding. This year Bedfordshire has been awarded £559,000, with previous awards of £1.38 million and £908,000 respectively.

Bedfordshire’s Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) has been awarded grants of £880,000 for the past three years, with the VERU working directly with young people at risk, funding community projects as well as coordinating the response to these issues between different agencies and communities.