Serious violence in Luton debated at three events hosted by Bedfordshire Police Commissioner

Public thanked for taking the time to share their thoughts and experiences

Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 5:15 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 5:16 pm

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Festus Akinbusoye, together with the Luton Council, hosted three events last week about understanding serious violence in Luton.

Locals were invited to the events with discussions focussing on how work can be done together as a community to prevent violence. They took place at Futures House on July 12, online on July 13 and Venue 360 on July 14.

Mr Akinbusoye said: “All three events showed us a different area to consider. For me the young people from At10tive really helped us understand areas we could support. They spoke clearly, calmly and with purpose, they understand their generation and put the ask to us as partners to support them.

Three events took place last week

“At the north event community members explained how their experiences had impacted them and at the south event partners connected with residents about the ideas of fear leading to anger which leads to a feeling for young people that they need to protect themselves. This situation often comes from incidents on social media or bullying.

Mr Akinbusoye said as a result of the events he would be putting the following into his Police and Crime Plan:

> A programme focussed on anti-bullying where young people are worked with not preached at about the impact this has.

> A role in his office that will work with current providers to support parents and careers of young people. Improving resilience and supporting healthy choices so they in turn can support the young people experiencing a difficult time.

> In his 22/23 budget he will allocate £150,000 to early intervention programmes that will work with existing programmes and will focus on the type of work that young people say they need, not just what adults think they need.

“This work will be the start not the complete package as this area is key to reducing crime in our area and supporting young people,” said the PCC.

Leader of Luton Council, Hazel Simmons added: “I would first of all like to thank every member of the public who attended our meetings, for taking the time to share their thoughts and experiences. It really is crucial to have your support and we value every contribution made.

“One message that came through loud and clear to me was that of communication. We most certainly need to continue to work hard with all our partners to ensure our streets are safe places for all. But we also need to work harder to inform our communities about the work that is already going on to tackle serious violence, and where to go to get help.”

“For example, the vast majority of those attending were not aware of that, since March, we have been operating a street and park-based engagement programme called the Tree Project (Tackling, Reducing and Ending Exploitation).

“This project has created opportunities for specialist community organisations and support services around Luton to be involved in dedicated nights of action, helping young people to receive longer term support to build the resilience needed to resist exploitation and violence.

“Council and police officers are already engaged in projects across the town, from theatre performances in schools highlighting the dangers of knife crime to targeted mentoring and one to one intervention for young people at risk of criminal exploitation.

“We look forward to further chances to work alongside our community to find ways to improve communication both ways, and to tackle the evils of bullying, harassment and criminal exploitation that lead to serious violence.”

Many partners in the area commented at the events that violence is not at the levels it was in 2016 and where programmes are working well they need continued funding and support.

> The Luton News and Dunstable Gazette launched our anti-knife crime initiative Bin Your Blade last month following the fatal stabbing of 16-year-old Humza Hussain in Luton which shocked the community.

By publicising the awful consequences of carrying a knife we want to make a difference and encourage those who may be vulnerable to resist exploitation and to avoid making dangerous choices.

If you’ve been affected by knife crime please share your story with us, or if you’re trying to make a difference in the community get in touch. Email [email protected] or call 07803 506099.