Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has vowed to do more to tackle serious youth violence after the death of a 16-year-old boy in Luton.
Festus Akinbusoye also sent his condolences to the boy’s family following Tuesday’s incident in Stoneygate Road.
A 16-year-old boy suffered multiple stab wounds during the incident and was pronounced dead a short while later in hospital.
Two teenage boys have been arrested in connection with the incident, one on suspicion of murder, and the other on suspicion of violent disorder.
Commissioner Akinbusoye said: “This is a shocking, awful incident and my sincere condolences go out to the loved ones of the victim. As a father of teenagers myself, I cannot imagine the anguish they are going through and my thoughts are with them on this tragic day.
“My thoughts and prayers also remain with all those affected by serious violence in any way. We all can and must do more to deal with this menace in our society.
“This is why I am in support of the effective use of stop and search, as well as giving police officers the tools and technology they need to keep people safe.
“But we cannot simply arrest our way out of this problem. Tackling the root causes of gangs, knife crime and county lines is absolutely vital work that I will support in any way I can.
“This includes funding schemes to make local areas safer, as well as supporting the life changing work of organisations such as the Bedfordshire Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU).
“We will also be managing and commissioning our own projects to provide hope and opportunities to young people and show them a brighter path.
“While we are making progress, I am determined to do all I can to stop any further tragedies like this. This includes empowering communities and organisations who share in this aspiration, so please get in touch with me and my office and help us make this change.
“Some community engagement events will shortly be announced and I look forward to hearing residents’ views on this urgent matter.”
Since taking office the PCC has carried out several interviews highlighting the importance of stop and search, as well as going out on patrols with officers in Luton and visiting organisations that are carrying out early intervention work in schools, youth groups and faith centres.
His office will be launching internships and mentoring programmes for young people, as well as support pathways for parents and guardians which are independent of the police and other statutory services.
As well as the VERU, the PCC is also supporting early intervention work by the likes of the county’s youth offending services, YouTurn Futures and the Bedfordshire Against Violence and Exploitation campaign.
Luton Council leader Hazel Simmons has also issued a statement following the incident, which is available to view via https://www.facebook.com/lutoncouncil/posts/4719229804757807