More than six kilos of drugs and £130,000 in criminal cash have been taken off the streets as the direct result of a Government grant for Bedfordshire Police to tackle serious youth violence.
Activity funded by the £1.38 million surge funding money has also enabled officers on gang patrols to make 145 arrests and secure jail terms of more than 30 years.
Bedfordshire Police were one of 18 police forces with particularly high demand which were handed funding from the Home Office in April to tackle gun and knife crime involving young people.
National figures released this week show that serious knife crime offences increased by around 25% in the 12 months to September in the county, compared to the previous year.
As a direct result of the targeted funding to tackle this issue, officers have been able to…
- Seize dozens of weapons including more than 25 knives as well as firearms
- Recover 2.5 kilos of Class A and four kilos of Class B drugs
- Seize around £133,000 in criminal cash
- Make 145 arrests for offences including attempted murder, grievous bodily harm, robbery, arson and possession with intent to supply drugs
- Secure prison sentences for 18 people totalling 30 years and four months
- Run almost 100 Operation Sparkler patrols to tackle gang activity, as well as other operations targeting serious youth violence
- Execute 48 warrants
- Carry out 393 stop searches
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, said: “The policing achievements as a result of the uplift funding from the Home Office prove conclusively what more we can achieve when we are given more; that money invested in Bedfordshire Police and, in particular, in relation to our approach to serious youth violence, is a wise investment indeed.
“This pattern started with the £4.571m Special Grant which I won in December 2018, which has led to 200 years of prison terms by doubling the Force’s specialist unit - Op Boson - to create one Boson team for the north to mirror that in the south of the county, which the Policing Minister has promised in writing to repeat this financial year, given their effectiveness.
“The input of Bedfordshire Police’s Assistant Chief Constable, Jackie Sebire, cannot be under-estimated in helping to achieve the subsequent £1.38m uplift investment and also £880,000 to set up the county’s Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU), co-locating partners from local authorities and drawing together youth offending services, health and charities to tackle youth violence.
“I may be able to robustly put our argument to politicians but Jackie heads up the operational delivery on the ground which is producing these exceptional results.
“Admissions for knife crimes to our hospitals are plateauing out, the most serious offenders are being put away and individuals actively diverted from gang activity. This is policing that is working."
The surge funding money has enabled Bedfordshire Police to carry out more innovative tactics around enforcement to target those involved in serious youth violence.
Justice McCann, 22, of Ravenhill Way, Luton, was jailed for 22-and-a-half years, with an extended five years on licence, last week after shooting a man in the chest.
Fast track forensics paid for by the grant identified McCann’s fingerprints on both the victim’s car and on the weapon.
This ensured he was identified as the prime suspect within 24 hours of the shooting taking place.
Further use of fast track forensics has helped in prosecutions around the supply of guns, as well as to quickly identify fingerprints on knives and tasers to ensure offenders are swiftly brought to justice.
Part of this funding has also been used to support the force in securing drug dealing telecommunication restriction orders (DDTROs), where phone lines linked to drug dealing can be shut down.
The force has so far shut down 14 phone lines using DDTROs.
Other projects have included boosting the force’s research and analytical capacity to better understand the problem of serious youth violence, including on platforms such as social media.
Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire, the national lead for serious youth violence, said: “This funding has played a huge part in some fantastic work we are doing to tackle this issue and protect our young people.
“The commissioner has been instrumental in securing various funding sources for Bedfordshire and these results speak for themselves. We are unquestionably in a better position now to tackle serious youth violence than we were before we received this grant.
“While all this enforcement activity is a significant element in our strategy to reduce serious violence, sustained reductions will only come through prevention and diversion.
“It is the separate funding for the Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) that is most important in solving this issue for the longer term.”