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How we are tackling youth violence

Paul Ayling

We’re now into the summer holidays, time for the young people in our county to have a well-earned break from lessons and homework.

While the majority of young people in Bedfordshire are responsible, law abiding community members who will spend the break with friends and family, it can’t be ignored that there are a minority who cause trouble and will continue to do so over the holiday period.

It’s been well-reported that nationally we have seen an increase in knife crime, which has unfortunately also risen in Bedfordshire. Knife crime is not the only issue facing our young people – along with gang activity, drug activity and anti-social behaviour, all come under the umbrella of Serious Youth Violence.

Operation Arora is our response to Serious Youth Violence in the north of the county, which is run by my team – the Bedford Urban Community Policing Team. The operation was set up in response to concerns raised by residents in Kempston, and has since expanded to include Bedford and other areas of the north of the county.

Through Operation Arora we’re working to tackle youth violence and associated disorder, as well as to offer reassurance to our residents.

Police Officers and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) from the Bedford Urban Community Policing Team have been working together to carry out Operation Arora patrols. Most recently the team were out on Saturday carrying out patrols in Kempston and Bedford, including in Addison Howard Park, Owen Close, Hillgrounds and Moor Lane Park. Two PCSO’s found a knife in Addison Howard Park wrapped in a t-shirt, which was recovered and taken back to the police station.

By carrying out these high-visibility patrols, I hope we’re able to deter criminality, but also build better relationships with our communities and encourage them to report information to us which can help us build a better picture of activity in certain areas. We can’t tackle crime if we don’t know where the issues are, so if you do see our PCSO’s out and about, please do talk to them about any concerns you have about knife crime, gang activity, drug activity and anti-social behaviour.

If you’re a parent, remember that you can visit our website pages about knife crime or gang activity if you’d like more information on either, or if you’re concerned about your child getting in involved with these types of criminality.

We also have information available about what to do if you are someone who’s already involved in gang activity and would like to leave, or are care carrying a knife but would like to stop.

I hope that the summer holidays are as safe as possible; as a force we’ll be doing our part to ensure that they are. However, we can’t tackle crime alone and the support of our communities will ensure we are able to tackle those who want to cause trouble and bring them to justice for their actions.

Inspector Paul Ayling

Bedford Urban Community Policing Team

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