Bedfordshire Police has secured renewed funding of more than £500,000 from a scheme which helped detectives snare a gunman set to be featured on 24 Hours in Police Custody.
The latest £539,000 allocation of Home Office surge funding to Bedfordshire Police will allow officers to continue the fight against gangs, serious violence and exploitation in the county.
The government funding has previously allowed the force to invest in innovative equipment and tactics, including obtaining fast track forensic results from incidents of serious violence.
The speed of these results allowed detectives to quickly identify Justice McCann as the prime suspect in a shooting in Luton in August 2019.
The investigation by Bedfordshire Police’s Boson guns and gangs team is set to feature on Monday’s episode of 24 Hours in Police Custody, which airs at 9pm (29 March 2021) on Channel 4.
DNA belonging to McCann, 23, of Ravenhill Way, Luton, was recovered from a weapon found close to the scene of the incident after it was forensically examined. The sample was fast-tracked thanks to the surge funding and led to the quick arrest of McCann who subsequently pleaded guilty to five offences. Including attempted murder and possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.
He was sentenced to 27-and-a-half years in prison in January last year. McCann will not be eligible for parole until 2035.
Detective Sergeant Wil Taylor, from Boson, said:
“The impact that surge funding as well as other government investment has had on our efforts to fight violence, exploitation and organised crime has been huge.
“The case of Justice McCann encapsulates this. Without this investment we could never have afforded to fast track the forensic results.
“This money was directly responsible for us getting a forensic match on the gun we suspected of being involved in the shooting the day after it was recovered.
“We were then able to bring McCann in quickly as a result, taking an extremely dangerous man off the streets and keeping a lot of people in our communities much safer.”
Surge funding can be used to run enforcement activity tackling issues such as gangs and drug dealing. The Boson team in Bedfordshire uses it to run Op Sparkler patrols in areas experiencing these kinds of issues.
Bedfordshire Police has also benefitted from government funding for Boson in the form of special grants, funding to run the partnership Bedfordshire Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) as well as an additional special grant for Operation Costello, which will tackle the major players involved in drugs importation and weapons trafficking locally.
In total, the force and partners have been awarded around £18 million by the government in recent years to tackle violence, exploitation and organised crime.
This helped drive down serious youth violence incidents in Bedfordshire by nine per cent between March 2019 and March 2020, which equates to around 200 fewer victims.
Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire, the national lead for serious youth violence, said:
“We have made huge progress in Bedfordshire to tackle these interlinked areas of violence, exploitation and organised crime.
“From the work of Boson and Operation Costello through to the VERU and Bedfordshire Against Violence and Exploitation – we are coming at these issues from a variety of angles and getting results. So much of this work has only been possible because of the extra funding we have had from the government.
“However, the enormous challenge we face in these areas remains. We continue to work tirelessly to disrupt those involved in these crimes, as well as working with other agencies to help and support potential victims of violence and exploitation.”
More than two million people tuned into the first episode of the new series of 24 Hours in Police Custody.