Beds, Herts & Bucks

Bedfordshire gang and knife crime: £800k given to create new police units

"Phoenix" bird sculpture Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption A sculpture was unveiled in Luton last week which was created using about 500 weapons which were deposited in police knife amnesty bins

A police force has been given £880,000 to combat gun, gang and knife crime.

Home Office funding for Bedfordshire Police is to be spent on setting up a specialist Violence Reduction Unit.

The "pioneering proposal" will see police, local councils and community leaders working together to "tackle violent crime and its underlying causes", the force said.

Assistant Chief Constable, Jackie Sebire, said it will have a "huge impact" in the county.

The money is to be spent on creating police teams to "identify the drivers of serious violence".

Image caption The money will be spent on tackling violent crime and its underlying causes, police said

ACC Sebire said: "We need to tackle the root causes underpinning violence, which is driven by the drugs market, fear of crime, lack of opportunities and adverse childhood experiences."

She said the "truly collaborative, multi-agency project" will "have a huge impact on communities across Bedfordshire".

The money is on top of £1.38m already given by the Home Office to tackle serious violence, and £4.57m awarded in November to fight gun and knife crime.

Hazel Simmons, Labour leader of Luton Council, said: "This will help us get to the causes of this senseless behaviour which ruins so many lives".

Ian Dalgarno, Conservative councillor and Central Bedfordshire Council's executive member for community services, said: "We hope it will help us to collectively make a real difference to our communities."

Colleen Atkins, Labour's portfolio holder for community safety at Bedford Borough Council, said it proved that "across Bedfordshire we're taking the issue of knife crime and serious violence very seriously".

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