Questions are being asked whether Beds Police can handle the growing rate of stabbings in Luton after one young man died and another was injured in separate incidents on Sunday.
A Home Office report unveiled by the Sunday Times found that knife crime has risen 86% in Bedfordshire since 2014, with claims of London drug gangs moving into the home counties and engaging in turf wars with local dealers.
Assistant chief constable of Beds Police, Jackie Sebire said: “It’s true that we are seeing an increase in young people coming to Bedfordshire from other areas, like London, and dealing drugs.
“We have a dedicated operation to tackle this type of crime, as well as a guns and gangs team, the Boson team.
“We are one piece of the puzzle in terms of driving down knife crime, and we can’t do it alone.”
As hundreds of Lutonians celebrated the football club’s league win in a civic reception on Sunday, the day was marred by two stabbings with a murder investigation launched for one of them.
Emergency services were called at around 4.40pm to Bishopscote Road to reports that a young man had suffered a stab wound. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene and has been named as Waryam Hussain, 20, of Bristol Road, Luton.
An eyewitness said: “I’ve got young children and it’s getting to the point where I don’t want to let them play in the street.
“I know it’s probably drugs or whatever, but the fact it’s happening in the street close to where kids are playing is ridiculous.
“As soon as possible, I’ll be moving. I don’t want to live around here anymore and a lot of the neighbours have said the same thing.”
In a separate attack on Sunday, a man was stabbed in the leg just after 3pm in Dumfries Street. The victim’s injuries, although serious, are not said to be life threatening.
The offenders in the Dumfries Street attack are described as three men. One was wearing a white t-shirt with light blue jeans. He was believed to be holding a knife.
The second man was wearing a blue Adidas tracksuit top, a grey cap and dark grey jeans. A third man is described as wearing all grey clothing.
DS Thomas Hamm said: “We don’t believe this is a random attack and we are not connecting it to the incident in Bishopscote Road, that also happened [that] afternoon.”
Last Monday, two teenagers were stabbed in Leagrave after gang violence erupted in the Onslow Road, Vincent Road and Finsbury Road areas. That incident followed earlier reports the same day of acar being chased on Marsh Road by a gang carrying machetes.
in January two men were stabbed in front of horrified shoppers in The Mall.
And in March, 18-year-old Azaan Kaleem died after being stabbed in Hartsfield Road. Four teenagers have been charged with his murder.
On March 29 another man was critically injured in a stabbing incident in St Saviours Crescent.
And in April two men were injured after being shot on Portland road. A number of men have been arrested
Last month, Bedfordshire Polcie and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway announced that Beds Police was “ahead of the curve” in tackling knife crime.
ACC Sebire added: “Any incident where a young person is stabbed or loses their life is one too many.
“We understand that any increase in knife crime is concerning, but as a force we are committed to tackling this issue. We’re working hard to ensure our young people feel safe and don’t feel the need to carry a knife, so we’re doing lots of work in schools. We also run regular days of action, which include weapons sweeps and targeted patrols, to disrupt activity, which I hope also demonstrates that it’s something we are taking incredibly seriously.”
Anyone with information about either of Sunday’s stabbings is asked to call Beds Police on 101. The reference for the Bishopscote incident is 298 of 6 May and the reference for Dumfries Street is 253 of 6 May.