Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner -  
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PCC proves Bedfordshire Police is 'ahead of the curve' in fighting knife, gun and gang crime, launching new initiatives as Home Sec reveals national strategy
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, announced a further raft of projects funded by her office to fight the scourge of knife, gun and gang crime across the county, as the Home Secretary called on forces to do more - and her intention to bid for a share of £11m pledged for early intervention.

“I firmly believe that the best solutions to problems come from within communities directly affected by knife, gun and gang crime themselves. That’s why both last year and this, in the commissioning fund I am announcing now, I am funding projects led by the relatives of those who were murdered in this way, in both Luton and Bedford, as they can provide the most powerful testimony possible to influence other young people. As examples, I support an outstanding youth club and recording studio project - Right Time to Shine - in the Lewsey Farm area of Luton, where one of the youth leaders lost his brother in this way and my office and the Force work extremely closely with Channitta Lendore, whose brother Isaac Stone was murdered in Bedford, who now works with young people to illustrate the absolute devastation caused by his death within her family and wider community,” said Commissioner Holloway.

“We have seen young people dying in this county and I fully intend to bid for a share of the new £11m fund for early intervention for Bedfordshire.

“However, to get all our partners on board and really be prepared to even acknowledge that there are now gang issues throughout this county, including those dealing drugs along county lines out of London and other major cities which is a core aim of the new Home Office strategy, I funded its experts to work in Bedfordshire throughout the last year as an independent third party, to prove what is happening here in a way that is beyond challenge."

Commissioner Holloway commissioned the Home Office’s specialist Ending Youth Violence team to work with Bedfordshire Police, the Youth Offending Service and local councils to pool all known activity about gang members and those found to be carrying knives and other weapons in three reviews covering all the county’s unitary local authorities. These are now being used as the basis for creating a county-wide strategy around gang and weapons issues. 

“The scale of the problem we face is exemplified by the result of the most recent weapons’ amnesty in Bedfordshire as part of the national Op Sceptre amnesty scheme: in just seven bins, Bedfordshire Police recovered 700 knives, 10 guns and 2 grenades which most people outside law and enforcement would struggle to comprehend,” said PCC Holloway.

She announced that she is engaging the organisation Red Thread, which is specifically praised in the Home Secretary’s report for its work to divert young people from gang activity in London’s major trauma centre hospitals. “I didn’t even let them leave the building when they came in to pitch for the feasibility work to establish the case for them to work in Bedfordshire’s hospitals as a basis for the funding argument. My office had already introduced them to the A&E team from the Luton and Dunstable Hospital to get things started. Their original bid was for a study taking a year, but young people are dying and I can’t wait a year so they have been funded to put this together in six months. 

“I’m also announcing the funding of work with children as young as 11 within all our schools to better understand the acute dangers of carrying weapons and getting sucked into gang activity. For example, I am backing a theatre production delivered by Alter Ego - to deliver the message about county lines after the success of the production company with its “Chelsea’s Choice” play about Child Sexual Exploitation.  

“My office has already successfully bid for £40,000 in Home Office Community funding for projects with Safer London to train teachers and other frontline staff about county lines and Growing Against Violence to provide anti knife crime projects in schools and will this year again fund a project involving around 200 pupils to create a radio ad warning their peers of the dangers of carrying knives.

"I, of course, fully support Bedfordshire Police’s own extensive current initiatives which reflect the requirements of the Home Secretary’s Serious Violence Strategy including engaging directly and regularly with more than 40 young people and their families who have been known to carry knives, working with teachers and pupils to explain the choices and consequences of gang involvement and, operationally, in hot spot policing of areas known to have been associated with such problems,” said Commissioner Holloway.

The Commissioner was present for the launch of the new Serious Violence Strategy by the Home Secretary at the Coin Street Community Centre on London’s South Bank on Monday 10 April 2018.