New head to put the community at the heart of her plans
The head of a new £880,000 unit aimed at tackling the root causes of violence and exploitation in Bedfordshire has vowed to put the community at the heart of her plans. Kimberley Lamb has officially started work as head of the new unit, which has been funded by the Home Office.
The Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) has the support of major statutory agencies across the county, such as the police, local authorities and health service.
The VERU aims to create a network which can stop young people getting involved in serious violence, mirroring the public health approach which has been so successful in Scotland.
Mrs Lamb said:
“Things like gun and knife crime are often driven by factors like organised crime and gang membership, including the criminal exploitation of children and other vulnerable people by those involved in county lines and wider drug dealing.
“I firmly believe that much of this associated violence can be prevented by creating the right support and interventions for those young people most at risk.
“Different agencies working together can play a huge part in that, and we want to build on the successful work that has gone into tackling things like child sexual exploitation in Bedfordshire.
“However, the community is absolutely integral to what I want to achieve with the VERU. I will invest in and empower our communities to play their part in ending this blight across our county, and hopefully create that ‘village’ mentality where everyone feels they have a role to play in protecting our young people.”
Bedfordshire is one of 18 police force areas across the country to receive funding from the Home Office for violence reduction units. Around a quarter of this funding has been earmarked for community projects which can divert young people away from gangs and serious violence.
The new unit will also set up a youth support worker service to work with those at risk of gang association. The VERU’s work will be overseen by a strategic board made up of all the different agencies signed up to it, including councils, schools, public health and the police.