Bedfordshire Police said that around 5,000 people have received specialist talks and advice around preventing things like knife crime as part of efforts led by the Force and the county’s Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU).
The VERU leads on the multi-agency response to tackling serious youth violence in Bedfordshire
The VERU’s Youth Intervention Specialist (YIS) team has been engaging with young people and professionals across the county to raise awareness around serious youth violence.
On Thursday (22 July 2021) the VERU-led Bedfordshire Against Violence and Exploitation (BAVEX) campaign hosted a webinar. VERU staff, a police officer and staff from charity FACES Bedford spent an hour answering questions about preventing violence and exploitation.
The YIS team has also addressed students and staff in a virtual ceremony at Bedford Academy. There have been presentations at Academy Central Bedfordshire, Barnfield College, Lincroft Academy and Mary Seacole.
VERU head Kimberley Lamb said:
“The saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is the fundamental mantra in our approach to reducing violence and the exploitation of young people.
“No one person, agency or community can solve this on their own. It can only be solved if we all work as a team, together.
“These activities are just a snapshot of the work we are doing in the VERU every day, whether it’s working directly with young people and families, supporting grassroots projects or coordinating our response to these issues in Bedfordshire.
“We are here to be that link to different communities across the county so if you have concerns, ideas or want to find out more about what we do, please get in touch.”
In February Bedfordshire Police set up a new Education and Diversion team to lead on prevention and engagement with young people in particular.
Since June, this team has delivered 27 educational inputs to more than 3,000 students around things like gangs and serious youth violence, as well as delivering and supporting nine projects alongside partner agencies.
Bedfordshire Police and the Luton Youth Offending Service continue to run the Tree (Tackling, Reducing and Ending Exploitation) project in Luton, going out on dedicated patrols around the town to engage with young people alongside specialist agencies and community groups.
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has recently held three engagement events in partnership with Luton Council in the town, as well as funding activities for young people over the summer holidays.
Luton MP Sarah Owen also led a debate in Parliament this week to highlight issues around knife crime and the need for long term solutions to tackle it here in Bedfordshire.
Bedfordshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Sharn Basra said:
“Things like gangs, county lines and knife crime will only be solved if we all work together to help protect young people and show them a better future.
“We will continue to play our part in policing. We know there have been some concerning incidents recently, but knife crime levels remain lower than they were in the 2019/20 financial year, while our community teams continue to patrol in areas affected by these incidents to provide that reassurance.
“Enforcement is only one part of the puzzle, though. All of this activity to engage with young people, raise awareness of these issues and collaborate on different projects is absolutely vital work that we must continue and promote if we are to achieve real and lasting change.”
There are knife bins around the county to dispose of knives and other weapons? You can find out where these are on the Bedfordshire Police website.
To report any information to Bedfordshire Police visit the force’s online reporting centre or call 101.
You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously and in confidence via crimestoppers-uk.org.
You can speak to someone at the VERU, or find out more about their VERU Village network of support services, by visiting bedsveru.org.
BAVEX is the partnership campaign raising awareness about violence, exploitation and organised crime. For more information on the signs to spot and where to get help, visit bavex.co.uk.