Joint statement from Beds Police, Local Authorities, VERU and Beds PCC – Luton must come together to tackle knife violence
Police, schools, council and community and faith groups in Luton have come together to express their deep shock and sadness at the tragic events over the weekend.
They all send their thoughts and prayers to the family of the young man who has died and all those whose lives have been affected.
The local community is understandably distressed, angry and anxious following these senseless acts of violence that are sadly taking place across the country.
It is reassuring that the police have acted quickly and made a series of arrests following this weekend’s events and they do not believe there is any further threat to the public arising from these incidents.
However it’s unacceptable that it happened in the first place and we must all double down in our efforts to eradicate this senseless violence in our communities.
Leader of Luton council, Cllr Hazel Simmons MBE, said: “This devastating news has sent a shockwave right across our community. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of this young man and all those affected by this senseless tragedy.
“Knife crime is a national concern and by no means isolated to our town, but we know that a lack of access to opportunities, jobs and services can have many negative impacts. It is not a problem any one organisation can tackle alone – we must all come together and find solutions for Luton.
“The safety and wellbeing of our young people is an absolute priority for Luton. It is simply not acceptable for people to carry knives with the intent of killing and injuring others.”
Bedfordshire Police Chief Constable Trevor Rodenhurst said: “Incidents like these bring concern to the whole community, and there remains a profound sense of sadness that a life so young has been lost in these circumstances on the streets of Bedfordshire.
“Our thoughts remain with the victim’s family and loved ones at such a tragic time. I cannot imagine the hurt and loss they are feeling and we do have specialist police officers in regular contact with them to offer support.
“The Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit is carrying out a thorough investigation, and there will be an increased policing presence in the area whilst enquiries are ongoing.
“We must intensify our efforts in the wake of this appalling violence to address the key drivers of serious youth violence, whilst directly detecting and deterring the use of knives and weapons. We know we cannot arrest our way out of this hugely damaging problem.
“From a policing perspective, we will continue to work with all our partners in these spaces, and we will drive enforcement operations to combat things that are often the drivers of knife crime, such as gang activity, county lines or other forms of drug dealing and organised crime.”
John Burridge, Chair of Luton Secondary Heads, said: “The whole educational community in Luton is saddened and troubled by these recent incidents. Our thoughts are with those affected at this time.
“Schools and Colleges in our town are committed to ensuring that there is a town-wide strategy to further tackle knife crime. Such horrific crimes impact so many young people in our community and this requires us all to come together.”
Prof Zafar Khan, Chair Luton Council of Faiths, said: “We are extremely saddened by this tragic event. We have consistently and vehemently denounced any acts of violence and knife crime that have such tragic results and violate the sanctity of human life.
“Luton’s faith communities stand together in solidarity with the families of those bereaved by the untimely loss of their loved one and offer sincere sympathies to those who survived the life-threatening attack and injuries. We all have a role to play to prevent youth violence and knife crimes, as well as to assist young people in living fulfilling lives and enhancing their future prospects.”
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Festus Akinbusoye said: “The growing crisis of knife crime and serious violence on our streets is of real concern to me. I cannot fathom what the families of the young people whose lives have been taken through this senseless acts of violence are going through. Their grief and loss are emotions I cannot comprehend as father to teenagers myself.
“My office has invested in prevention and early intervention services for schools and the wider community, as well as securing dedicated government funding to tackle gangs, organised crime and the root causes of violence and exploitation.
“Much is being done, but I acknowledge there is more to do. We cannot solve knife crime in isolation or just simply through more policing alone, which is why I continue to work closely with the three local authorities in Bedfordshire, voluntary organisations, faith groups and wider communities to tackle the cause of this terrible crime in our county.”
Kimberley Lamb, director of the Bedfordshire Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit, said: “I know just what a profound impact tragedies like this have across all our communities in Luton and my heart goes out to all of those who have been affected.
“Knife crime and serious youth violence is a problem we will only solve collectively, by working collaboratively across policing, other statutory services, charities, families and communities themselves to keep young people safe. We are determined to play our part in tackling the root causes of violence and exploitation, provide opportunities for young people and rid the scourge of knife crime from our county.”
Si Philbert, from Wingman Mentors, a non-profit organisation dedicated to empowering and supporting young people, said: “The recent incidents have deeply impacted our community. We recognise the gravity of the situation and the urgent need to address the underlying issues contributing to such incidents.
“We understand the complex challenges faced by young individuals affected by knife crime. We are committed to tackling these issues head-on by providing support, guidance, and opportunities for personal growth. In the face of this, we reaffirm our dedication to working collaboratively with community members, organisations, and concerned individuals. By addressing the root causes and providing resources.
“Bringing the National Knife Angel sculpture to Luton in July 2024 aims to raise awareness and foster understanding of the profound consequences of carrying a knife. This powerful symbol will serve as a poignant reminder of the destructive path that knife crime can lead to, not only for individuals but for the entire community creating a lasting educational legacy.”
“By uniting our efforts, we believe we can instigate meaningful change and provide young people with the education, guidance and support needed
At a time like this, misinformation and rumours on social media can cause distress and anxiety to the families and the wider community, so we urge people to not share information on online unless it comes from a trusted source. Anything you see which could potentially help with the investigation should be shared with the police.
Anyone with information about this incident is urged to come forward to help in the investigation. You can call police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Many people will have been affected by these events and help is available. BLMK Mind Matters offer a safe, non-judgmental space to discuss and explore issues around your wellbeing and mental health.
Key partners are currently looking at organising events within the town to enable everyone to work together to deal with this threat and put a stop to this senseless violence that is ruining too many lives. Details will be published as soon as they are confirmed.