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Bedfordshire Police wins second award of £1m from the Home Office to help tackle serious violence and knife crime

17 Apr 2019

Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, and Assistant Chief Constable, Jackie Sebire, today learned that their lobbying of the Home Office for extra funds to tackle serious violence and knife crime has paid off, with an award of £1m this year, on top of £4.571m secured in December 2018.

The latest grant is part of a £51m ‘surge capacity’ fund awarded to 18 forces to focus on reducing and reacting to street violence – particularly knife crime in public places. It comes on the back of a string of high profile incidents including the brutal murder of 16-year-old Cemeren Yilmaz in Bedford – for which three 15-year-olds and a 20-year-old man were convicted last week - and the murder of 18-year-old Azaan Kaleem, together with a brazen daylight stabbing in The Mall, Luton.

The Home Office fund is part of £100m announced by Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, earlier this year to tackle serious violence. Bedfordshire’s Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire, who is also the national policing lead for serious violence, was part of a national roundtable meeting with the Home Secretary to discuss the issues forces are facing across the country. She also lobbied hard to outline the challenges in Bedfordshire.

ACC Sebire said: “We are delighted to have secured this additional funding to help tackle serious violence – particularly knife crime. Bedfordshire has seen a number of absolutely horrific incidents over the past year, including two teenage boys being murdered on our streets and many more incidents which have left people with horrendous injuries.

“We are absolutely committed to tackling the root cause of these issues, to keep our young people safe and divert them away from crime. We will now look at how best to spend this extra funding, but a sustainable partnership approach focused on enforcement and prevention is absolutely crucial in reducing the level of serious violence which is destroying lives.”

The Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, also backed ACC Sebire in battling for a share of the national pot of funding, citing the events of 16 September 2018 involving murder, multiple stabbings and mass disorder in Bedford and Luton as a point of focus for Government on the problems of serious youth violence in the county.

Commissioner Holloway said: “ACC Jackie Sebire has been a hugely effective voice at the table as the national lead on Serious Violence in arguing for Bedfordshire Police's latest £1m uplift from Government to assist in the battle against serious violence, and knife crime in particular.

“I have backed her very robustly by making arguments to the Policing Minister, Nick Hurd, including pointing to evidence of up to 50 young people aged between 13 and 30 fighting in the street with knives, machetes, knuckle-dusters and, ironically, police batons, in one incident which put seven teenagers in hospital in Luton on the same night that a 16-year-old’s body was found as the result of a stabbing in Bedford, on September 16 2018.

"This is just one incidence of the deeply unpalatable facts concerning serious violence in this county and they have not been ignored by the Home Office. I must now provide a plan to Government to prove that I will spend the money wisely which must be submitted before the end of May.

“I will do so and also make our case for a further share of £65m available to police forces in England and Wales to fight the scourge of knife violence which is blighting a generation.”

The £1m award which covers 2019/20 comes on top of PCC Holloway's successful application for a £4.571m Home Office Special Grant to help Bedfordshire Police to tackle gun, gang and knife crime which was awarded in December 2018.

National Police Chiefs’ Council Chair Martin Hewitt added: “The announcement of additional funding for the most affected police forces to tackle serious violence is welcome. This will help forces to carry out activity that we know works, such as increasing the number of officers available to carry out targeted patrols in crime hotspots and increasing our use of stop and search.

“Chief Constables in these areas will now consider how best to use their additional resources. Police tactics alone will not prevent violence however, and any solutions must involve Government, education, health, social services and communities themselves.”


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