Beds Police chiefs today learned that the force will receive a £1m grant from the Home Office as part of a national crackdown on knife crime.
The force today stated that Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Kathryn Holloway and Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) Jackie Sebire’s efforts to lobby the government had “paid off”.
ACC Sebire said: “We are delighted to have secured this additional funding to help tackle serious violence – particularly knife crime. Bedfordshire has seen a number of absolutely horrific incidents over the past year, including two teenage boys being murdered on our streets and many more incidents which have left people with horrendous injuries.
Beds Police has faced a string of high profile knife attacks in the past 18 months, including the brutal murder of 16-year-old Cemeren Yilmaz in Bedford (for which three 15-year-olds and a 20-year-old were convicted last week), the murder of 18-year-old Azaan Kaleem in Luton in May last year, as well as the brazen daylight stabbing in Luton’s The Mall in January 2018.
The Home Office fund is part of £100m announced by Home Secretary Sajid Javid earlier this year to tackle serious violence. ACC Sebire is national policing lead for serious violence and lobbied hard for Bedfordshire.
She added: “We are absolutely committed to tackling the root cause of these issues, to keep our young people safe and divert them away from crime.
“We will now look at how best to spend this extra funding, but a sustainable partnership approach focused on enforcement and prevention is absolutely crucial in reducing the level of serious violence which is destroying lives.”
PCC Kathryn Holloway backed ACC Sebire in battling for a share of the national pot of funding, citing the events of September 16, 2018, involving murder, multiple stabbings and mass disorder in Bedford and Luton leading to a shortage of available officers as a point in evidence.
PCC Mrs Holloway said: “ACC Jackie Sebire has been a hugely effective voice at the table as the national lead on Serious Violence in arguing for Bedfordshire Police’s latest £1m uplift from Government to assist in the battle against serious violence, and knife crime in particular.“I have backed her very robustly by making arguments to the policing minister Nick Hurd including pointing to evidence of up to 50 young people aged between 13 and 30 fighting in the street with knives, machetes, knuckle-dusters and, ironically, police batons, in one incident which put seven teenagers in hospital in Luton on the same night that a 16-year-old’s body was found as the result of a stabbing in Bedford, on September 16 2018.
“This is just one incidence of the deeply unpalatable facts concerning serious violence in this county and they have not been ignored by the Home Office.
“I must now provide a plan to Government to prove that I will spend the money wisely which must be submitted before the end of May.“I will do so and also make our case for a further share of £65m available to police forces in England and Wales to fight the scourge of knife violence which is blighting a generation.”The £1m award which covers 2019/20 comes on top of PCC Holloway’s successful application for a £4.57m Home Office special grant to help Beds Police to tackle gun, gang and knife crime, which was awarded in December 2018.