Youth violence down in Bedfordshire and more funding on the way

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Operation Boson

Bedfordshire Police have revealed that youth violence has dropped by 9%, the equivalent of 200 fewer victims, in Bedfordshire thanks to new strategies and Government funding.

Over the past year, up to March 2020, Bedfordshire Police has been able to draw on £1.38 million of ‘surge funding’ from the Government to run enforcement action targeting things like gangs and drug dealing.

Now the Home Office has confirmed Bedfordshire Police and the Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) is receiving a further £908,000 to keep their work going for another 12 months.

The Police and Crime Commissioner’s VERU, brings together police, councils, and health and community groups to tackle the root causes of violence.

They received an initial £880,000 from ministers to establish the group which also seeks to help young people find an alternative path to gang culture and street violence.

This has enabled Bedfordshire Police and the VERU to:

  • Reduce serious youth violence by 9 per cent, equivalent to 200 fewer victims
  • Run 152 ‘Operation Sparkler’ patrols targeting gang activity by carrying out 541 stop and searches and 173 arrests
  • Recovering £146,000 in cash, six guns and six imitation firearms, 1.5 kilos of Class A and 5.4 kilos of Class B drugs
  • Put those found guilty of crimes during this enforcement behind bars for more than 30 years

They have also:

  • Worked with 41 young people and their families to offer tailored counselling and support.
  • Funded more than 40 community projects which reached more than 12,000 people across the county.

Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, said: “The VERU is making a clear and demonstrable difference to driving down violent crime in Bedfordshire.

The PPC also said that while this work of VERU has continued, Bedfordshire Police have also been continuing their efforts separately.

“Operation Boson’s specialist team have also continued dealing with gang, gun and knife crime has reached a solved crime rate of between 80 and 90 per cent,” she said.

Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire, who oversees Bedfordshire’s VERU, added: “This has only been made possible thanks to some incredibly hard work by the police and our partners, as well as investment from the Government and their belief in what we are delivering.

“Serious violence and exploitation are endemic social issues and we will continue to work alongside our partners and communities to protect people from harm and offer young people an alternative path.

“We can and must continue to focus on preventing violence from happening in the first place if we are to achieve a real and lasting change.”

Councillor Colleen Atkins, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety at Bedford Borough Council, said: “Partnership working really is key to changing lives, tackling violence and improving community safety.

“I am delighted the VERU has been funded for another year, bringing together the police, local councils, health, community groups and other partners.”

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