Police ‘map’ 10 organised crime gangs operating in Bedford Borough

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Bedfordshire Police has ‘mapped’ ten organised crime groups and three gangs in Bedford borough, councillors were told.

Detective Chief Inspector Katie Dounias, who leads the community side of serious organised crime at Bedfordshire Police, gave a presentation to the Environment and Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee last week (3 March).

She said: “I think historically serious organised crime has been seen as an area that is tackled by specialist units.

“But actually, the type of criminality is really affecting the local communities and it’s the local communities that see it on their doorsteps and in their neighbourhoods.

DCI Dounias gave the councillors an overview of the picture in Bedford borough.

“We have 47 mapped organised crime groups [in Bedfordshire], ten of those are within Bedford.

“We have ten gangs mapped across Bedfordshire, three of those are within Bedford.

“Nineteen county lines, ten of those are within Bedford.

“And in terms of modern slavery human trafficking, at this precise moment in time we have 12 live investigations across Bedfordshire, three of those are within Bedford

“That doesn’t include data from Yarl’s Wood,” she added.

The committee was told that the primary criminality type across Bedfordshire for organised crime is drugs, followed by organised acquisitive crime. This is burglaries, theft of motor vehicles, etc.

“These organised criminals are operating in our communities, they’re exploiting children, they’re targeting the most vulnerable, and they’re ruining lives and blighting communities, while they reap the benefits,” DCI Dounias said.

“They’re spending their money on lavish lifestyles and it’s quite disgusting to see, to be honest.”

“So in terms of community policing within Bedfordshire, it’s recognised that community policing requires a new approach to meeting the demands of conventional neighbourhood policing priorities.

“We need to still meet the demands and those issues that are really affecting the local communities.

“But we need to balance that with tackling these serious organised crime issues as well, that sometimes are not so visible,” she said.

DCI Dounias said the Force works to a framework to ensure the threat of serious organised crime is reduced, and added it’s about individual communities, organisations, and businesses being resilient to that threat.

“So understanding what serious organised crime is, how to spot the signs of it, and what they can do to tackle it and to mitigate the effects of it,” she said.

“And very much about partnership working, so forces and local authorities operating as a connected system, so very much a holistic approach working in partnership with all our public-private and third sector partners.

“And of course, hoping that our local response to serious organised crime inspires confidence in the public and in the communities that we’re working within,” she said.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter

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