Bin Your Blade: Luton public meetings will seek solutions to knife crime menace
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Leading public figures have joined the community in offering strong endorsement of the Luton News and Dunstable Gazette's Bin Your Blade campaign which we launched last week.
Bedfordshire Police and Luton Council are leading the support of our anti-knife crime initiative which was launched on our front page and lutontoday and dunstabletoday websites following the fatal stabbing of 16-year-old Humza Hussain in Luton which shocked the community.
Today we publish a joint letter backing our campaign signed by Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Festus Akinbusoye, Luton Council leader Cllr Hazel Simmons, Bedfordshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Sharn Basra, and Robin Porter, Luton Council's chief executive and chairman of the Bedfordshire Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit Oversight Board.
In it they reveal a series of meetings will be taking place aimed at working with the public to find solutions to the problem of serious youth violence blighting our communities.
In recent days, Bin Your Blade has also received support from Luton MPs Sarah Owen and Rachel Hopkins who both tweeted that they were "supporting @LutonNews' important Bin Your Blade campaign. Too many young people are losing their lives to knife crime. One preventable death is one too many". They were pictured holding our front page outside the House of Commons.
We were also contacted by members of the community keen to share news of the good work taking place to try to keep our young people out of trouble. We aim to share these stories in the coming weeks.
By publicising the awful consequences of carrying a knife we want to make a difference. We hope to encourage those who may be vulnerable to think twice, show them it’s not cool or a legitimate form of self defence to have a weapon, to resist exploitation and to avoid making dangerous choices.
If you’ve been affected by knife crime please share your story with this newspaper, or if you’re trying to make a difference in the community get in touch and we’ll help you shout about it from the rooftops. Email [email protected] or call 07803 506099.
Here's the joint letter:
We were left shocked and saddened at the death of 16-year-old Humza Hussain in Luton earlier this month.
Our thoughts remain with his family and loved ones. We cannot imagine the hurt and loss they are feeling and we will support them in any way we can.
Humza’s death has had a profound impact on all our communities. Vast numbers of people paid their respects at his funeral outdoors in a Luton park, while a huge number of different individuals and organisations have stepped forward over the past few days and offered to play their part in ending the scourge of knife crime and its associated harms to young people and the whole community.
We are committed to working with organisations that wish to make a positive difference to the lives of children and young people in our communities and stop the type of bullying, harassment and criminal exploitation that leads to the serious violence we are witnessing all too frequently.
On 12, 13 and 14 of July, we are holding a series of community engagement meetings. These meetings will be focused on identifying community-led solutions to serious violence in our communities. Details of these meetings in Luton will be announced in a few days. We look forward to welcoming you.
Put simply, we cannot arrest our way out of this problem. This cannot be solved by the police and it cannot be solved by individuals. It can only be solved if we work together, as a whole community.
This is why we are so supportive of the Luton News and Dunstable Gazette 'Bin Your Blade' campaign, which highlights this hugely important issue and brings people together to address it. This collective spirit and approach is something we have been moving towards in Bedfordshire for a number of years.
Many different services work hand in hand to try and safeguard young people and prevent violence from happening in the first place. From the police and local authorities to schools, colleges, charities, our county’s youth justice services and many more.
This is typified by the Bedfordshire Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU), a partnership unit whose Youth Intervention Specialist team is currently working with around 80 young people and families at risk of violence and exploitation.
We look forward to partnering with the Luton News and Dunstable Gazette to showcase some of the projects which form our comprehensive response to violence, child criminal exploitation and organised crime, which is often the driver of so many of these incidents.
These initiatives are having an impact: we have seen a sustained fall in serious youth violence in Bedfordshire over the past two years, with recorded incidents falling by 24 per cent in the year to April 2021 compared to the same time period to April 2019.
Through our safeguarding processes and panels, many children and young people have been assessed at an earlier stage, offered intervention and avoided being criminally exploited in the first instance.
While we have made progress, there is no doubt that we all can and must do more to stop any more families from losing their loved ones to the types of abuse and exploitation that lead to violent crime.
By working together, sharing our knowledge and upholding our commitment to building an inclusive town in partnership with our children and young people, we can help keep everyone in our county safer, and fulfil our shared ambition for everyone in Luton to thrive.
We hope everyone reading this shares this passion to protect young people and stands ready to play their part.
Festus Akinbusoye, Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner
Cllr Hazel Simmons, Leader, Luton Council
Assistant Chief Constable Sharn Basra, Bedfordshire Police
Robin Porter, Chief Executive, Luton Council, and chairman of the Bedfordshire Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit Oversight Board