Bedfordshire Police’s Assistant Chief Constable believes a partnership approach is crucial to tackling knife crime.
Jackie Sebire, who is the national lead for tackling serious violence, spoke at the National Police Chiefs’ Council and College of Policing’s Local Policing Conference today (Tuesday), she highlighted two Bedfordshire Police investigations - including a brazen knife fight at The Mall Luton.
Three teenagers were jailed for their involvement in that incident in January last year, which ACC Sebire said reflected rises in serious violence and use of weapons across England, she pointed to county lines drug dealing as a key driver for the increase.
She said: “The increase in violent crime, particularly the possession and use of knives, has been well-documented.
“We have had spikes in violence previously, but the difference in this rise is just how widespread it is and the sheer number of young and vulnerable people involved.
“County lines drug dealing is a driver, with the horrific exploitation of young people who are being drawn into, or subjected to, serious violence. This was echoed in the findings of a report by the Children’s Commissioner last week.”
Bedfordshire Police was successful in applying for a £4.571m Special Grant fund from the Home Office last year to pay for the increases in tackling gun and knife crime across the county.
This year the force widened its Boson team, which is focused on guns, gangs and knives, from Luton to now cover the rest of the county.
ACC Sebire said: “We need investment in policing so we can prevent these issues before they escalate, such as putting in dedicated teams to disrupt gangs and organised criminals.
“But police cannot tackle this problem alone – it requires a joined up public health approach to safeguard these young people - this includes local authorities and our communities.
“There is so much that can be done around early intervention and preventative work to tackle the factors that lead to individuals and communities becoming more vulnerable to involvement in gangs, drugs and serious violence.
“We are seeing that areas of the country which have dedicated resources to combat these issues, particularly when closely linked into partner agencies, are making a real difference to levels of violent crime.”