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Home Office confirms £908,000 of surge funding as well as £880,000 for Bedfordshire’s VERU

Bedfordshire Police has said that there were 200 fewer victims of serious youth violence in the county last year. Adding that new strategies and government funding helped to cut the number of incidents by around 9 per cent.

The Home Office also confirmed that Bedfordshire Police and the county’s Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) have received fresh funding.

Over the past year Bedfordshire Police has been able to draw on £1.38 million of ‘surge funding’ from the government to run enforcement action targeting things like gangs and drug dealing.

A separate £880,000 from ministers was used to establish the Police and Crime Commissioner’s VERU. This brings together the police, councils, health and community groups to tackle the root causes of violence and offer young people an alternative path.

Bedfordshire Police reported that this enabled the Force and the VERU to:

  • Reduce serious youth violence by 9 per cent in the year to March 2020, equivalent to 200 fewer victims
  • Run 152 ‘Operation Sparkler’ patrols targeting gang activity, generating 541 stop and searches and 173 arrests
  • These and consequent searches have recovered £146,000 in cash, six guns and six imitation firearms, 1.5 kilos of Class A and 5.4 kilos of Class B drugs
  • Those implicated in this enforcement action have already been jailed for more than 30 years
  • The VERU’s youth intervention specialists worked with 41 young people and their families to offer tailored counselling and support. This team includes Roseann Taylor, whose son Azaan Kaleem was stabbed to death in Luton in 2018
  • The VERU also funded more than 40 community projects which reached more than 12,000 people across the county. This included plays in schools, diversionary activities such as sport and media production, as well as specialist projects aimed at girls, parents and children with learning disabilities

Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, said:

“The VERU is making a clear and demonstrable difference to driving down violent crime in Bedfordshire and in preventing both serious injuries and exploitation in the first place through partners working more closely together than ever before to build plans around those at most risk and working with communities themselves to come up with diversionary schemes which work.

“This doesn’t mean that enforcement has been ignored by Bedfordshire Police, of course. The Operation Boson specialist team dealing with gang, gun and knife crime has reached a solved crime rate of between 80 and 90 per cent.

“Between the two approaches – diversion and mentoring and enforcement – we are making Bedfordshire a very inhospitable place indeed to try to recruit young people into gang violence and associated sexual exploitation, drugs markets and wider criminality and the plateauing of knife injuries to our A&E departments is proof that both the VERU and the uplift funding for policing which focusses on serious violence are producing results.”