Three men have been jailed today after two major brawls involving weapons broke out on the streets of Luton.
Many others are believed to have been involved in the gang fights in the Biscot area of Luton in September 2018 and July this year, with one man involved in both brawls among those jailed today.
Footage from the incidents captured on CCTV and mobile phones was widely shared on social media .
The first brawl on September 16, 2018, erupted between one Luton group and a rival gang from Bedford inside a flat in Saxon Road. The fight spilled out onto the streets and worsened with the arrival of a third gang from Luton.
Throughout the incident, weapons were used including knives, baseball bats, poles and hot oil. Seven people were taken to hospital with injuries including stab wounds and broken bones.
Today at Luton Crown Court, three men were sentenced for their part in the disorder.
> David Barnett, 24, of Napier Road, Luton, was found guilty of possession of an offensive weapon in a public place and will serve a total of 14 months in prison.
> Idnan Akbar, 28, of Blenheim Crescent, Luton, was found guilty of violent disorder and two counts of threatening a person with an offensive weapon in a public place. He was sentenced to a total of 14 months in prison.
> Mohammed Arshid, 37, of Blenheim Crescent, Luton, was found guilty of violent disorder and two counts of possession of a weapon in a public place. He was sentenced to a total of 28 months behind bars.
Arshid was also sentenced for his role in a similar clash in Blenheim Crescent earlier this year.
Police were in the area at around 1.30am on July 7 responding to an earlier disturbance when another melee broke out close by. A group of men were seen throwing objects including bricks towards Arshid, while he retaliated and chased them.
When officers got to Blenheim Crescent they saw Arshid with a machete, before he attempted to run home and abandoned the machete along the way. Arshid was then arrested for possession of a knife in a public place, as well as possession of cannabis.
Later that morning, officers also recovered a knife and a taser from a bin, as well as an axe and a metal stake from under a vehicle parked in Blenheim Crescent.
The sentences come on the same week that knife crime was confirmed to have risen by 57% over the past year in Bedfordshire, the biggest rise of any police force area in the country.
Senior detectives at Beds Police are using today’s sentences to issue a fresh appeal for information about both incidents, as well as urging communities to help officers in their fight against serious violence.
Det Supt Liz Mead, head of crime at Beds Police, said: “It is pleasing that three men will be spending time behind bars for their roles in these very public displays of gang violence.
“But despite our best efforts, many who were involved in these disorders are yet to face justice.
“Over the past two weeks alone, we have launched investigations into a firearms discharge and two serious stabbings involving teenagers, as well as charging six teenagers over a major drugs investigation in Bedford.
“Keeping people safe is our absolute top priority and we need the public’s help to tackle violent offenders and reduce the risks to our young people.
“If people would rather not talk to us, they can report information to Crimestoppers anonymously, while young people can do the same with Fearless.”
Detective Inspector Craig Laws, who investigated both cases, said: “These were two large scale and extremely violent disorders which we absolutely will not tolerate.
“Like so much knife crime, gun crime and other serious violence, these two incidents were linked to rival gangs and organised crime, with little risk to the wider public.
“That being said, all of those involved have shown a brazen and blatant disregard for law and order, with people suffering serious injuries as a result.
“Very few people involved in these incidents have cooperated with our enquiries to date, but I would again urge anyone who can help us to get in touch.”
Those with information about the incidents in Saxon Road or Blenheim Crescent can contact police on 101 or via the online reporting centre on the Bedfordshire Police website, quoting Operation Norbiton or Operation Broadwell respectively.
Alternatively you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.