Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner -  
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Bedfordshire's PCC attends Home Secretary's Ending Serious Violence launch and details plans for the county
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, was invited to attend the London launch of the Home Secretary’s new national strategy to deal with Serious Violence, gang and knife crime and pointed to the work being done by her office and the Force to tackle the issue in this county.

 Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, launched the new strategy, along with £11m for an Early Intervention Fund to be delivered through Community Safety Partnerships which involve police, mental health services, councils and the fire service to tackle rising knife crime, at a conference at the Coin Street Community Centre on London’s South Bank on Monday 9 April 2018.

 "This strategy and the money that comes with it is, of course, welcome in Bedfordshire. What the Force and I fully realise is that solutions to drive down knife and gang crime need to come from working with communities, not imposing our views on them. That’s why last year and this, I have been funding projects to work with young people which are led by the families and friends of those who have lost their lives in this way such as Right Time to Shine in Luton, who run a youth club and recording studio in the Lewsey Farm area, and a project in Bedford led by Channitta Lendore, whose brother, Isaac Stone, was murdered," said Commissioner.

 "My new grants round only ended a fortnight ago but projects dealing with knife carrying and gangs are a dominant theme and reflect the measures specifically called for in the new Government report such as working with the organisation Red Thread which intervenes to support young people to leave gangs following admissions to A&E departments with related injuries. My office has already introduced them to the department at Luton and Dunstable Hospital and, while the grant bid asked me to fund a year long study to prove the need for the service here in order to raise funding from the NHS, I’ve asked for it to be done in six months so that we can get on with introducing this service in Bedfordshire, after its significant success in the major casualty centres in London.

"Red Thread is currently launching its services in only two other areas outside London as a proof of concept - Nottingham and West Midlands - which would make Bedfordshire the first which is not a large metropolitan area or major trauma centre and I sincerely hope that we could attract Home Office funding to help us develop the service as a result.

 "The new strategy calls for joint working with partners, such as local authorities, to tackle the problem of gangs. We are putting together a countywide strategy around gangs and serious youth violence right now as a direct result of studies across the three council areas which I commissioned from the Home Office's specialist team last year, which mapped all the information known about gang members and those carrying knives from police, the Youth Offending Service (YoS) and council safeguarding teams. Nobody can claim they don’t have an issue and don’t need to act with us to contain it as a result," said the PCC.

Where knife crime is concerned, the PCC has funded training within schools and her office and the Force worked with 200 pupils in a competition to make a radio ad to impact on their peers regarding knife carrying. This year she will fund a theatre production for all schools with pupils of 11 and over in Bedfordshire to inform young people about the dangers of so-called “county lines” in which gangs from outside an area try to recruit the vulnerable and the young to carry drugs and weapons for them, in order to avoid the risk of arrest themselves.

Bedfordshire Police is delivering an intensive anti-knife crime strategy with local authorities and schools, in particular, to provide advice around knife and gang issues and close involvement with and monitoring of key individuals known to have habitually carried knives in the county. It runs frequent weapons’ amnesties in conjunction with the national Op Sceptre campaign and the crime prevention team has taken more than 1,000 weapons off the streets of Bedfordshire in the last six months.

"In Bedfordshire, knife crime has risen by 4% over the last year which is worrying enough and we are still seeing young people losing lives and being wounded in a way that was unthinkable just a couple of years ago. However, we haven’t seen the very significant rise at the level which has produced all the recent tragedies in London. I am pleased that the work being done here precisely reflects the advice which has been acknowledged as advisable and ‘best practise’ in this national Serious Violence Strategy but we will never be complacent, which is why anti-knife and gang commissions have been right at the heart of my funding for the financial year ahead," said Commissioner Holloway.