£2.1m grant to fund county’s biggest ever crackdown on organised crime gangs

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Bespoke funding of over £2m has been granted to Bedfordshire’s PCC, Kathryn Holloway, to target the criminal masterminds behind Organised Crime Groups (OCG) across the county.

The special funding will allow Bedfordshire Police to focus on OCGs after new leads emerged as a result of the National Crime Agency’s Operation Venetic.

The operation managed to crack the encryption of the network EncroChat, used by such groups to manage their criminal trade in drugs, weapons and people.

This latest funding takes the total funds won by the Police and Crime Commissioner to £17.5m over the last three years after persuading the Home Office to change the criteria for Special Grants specifically to tackle violence, exploitation and organised crime in Bedfordshire.

“Previous Special Grants have allowed me to help Bedfordshire Police to target the foot soldiers involved in gang, gun and knife crime at street level,” said PCC Holloway.

“Now we’re going after the Mr Bigs who are running these operations higher up, with the help of the information provided by the National Crime Agency.

“This £2.1m is invaluable as we are aware of multiple crime groups where intelligence concerning each one can ferociously absorb Bedfordshire’s very limited police resources.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway

Ms Holloway said she wanted to make Bedfordshire a deeply hostile environment in which to run a crime network.

The Policing Minister has written to the PCC to confirm that he will give the force a £2.1m Special Grant to cover 85 per cent of the costs of running Bedfordshire’s Serious Organised Crime crackdown, Operation Costello, this year.

Between July 2020 and February 2021, Bedfordshire Police carried out 83 warrants under Operation Costello, resulting in 44 arrests, 15 people being charged and the seizure of firearms and other weapons, approximately six kilos of Class A and B drugs, as well as around £580,000 in cash,

More than £1 million in assets have been seized in total under the operation, including cash, jewellery and property.

The Eastern Region Special Operations Unit has also run a number of major operations targeting organised crime in Bedfordshire and across the region as part of Operation Venetic.

The diversionary work and police enforcement collectively have meant a 9% reduction in Serious Youth Violence in Bedfordshire between March 2019 and March 2020, which equates to around 200 fewer victims who are alive or living without life-changing injuries.

In addition, there were no reports of firearms discharges or incidents of serious violence directly attributed to Bedfordshire’s Organised Crime Groups or gangs between August and January.

“This is an extraordinary achievement for Det Supt Julie Henderson and her team and to bring home the truth of this, when I came to Bedfordshire as PCC in May 2016, we were fifth among all 43 forces in England and Wales for gun crime,” said PCC Holloway.

Anyone with any information about drug dealing and organised crime can report it via Bedfordshire.police.uk/report

Alternatively the public can contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111 or by visiting their website.

All of these totally anonymous reports which cannot be traced back to the source are fed into police intelligence systems and can help police build up a better picture of organised crime, even if officers are not able to proceed to an arrest straight away.

For more information visit this landing page on the Crimestoppers website.

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