£520,000 funding boost for patrols targeting violent crime
Main article content
Police will be stepping up their patrols in areas affected by violent crime after ministers awarded Bedfordshire Police more than £520,000.
The Home Office confirmed the major boost to the force’s efforts to tackle issues like knife crime and drug dealing in a letter to Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Festus Akinbusoye this week.
The funding will allow Bedfordshire officers to carry out additional regular Op Sparkler patrols – high visibility patrols in so-called hotspot areas for violent crime.
While the funding confirmation is only for the current financial year, it is part of a three-year funding settlement which should see further funding coming into Bedfordshire to tackle violent crime for the foreseeable future.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “The people of Bedfordshire deserve to walk their streets and be confident that they, and their family members, will make it home safely.
"We know that targeted, intensive police patrols in hotspot areas of violence has a real impact on crime reduction so I am very pleased to provide Bedfordshire Police with even more funding to develop this tactic.
“With 125 additional police officers already recruited through our police uplift programme and more on the way, this will bolster the force’s front line efforts tackling serious violence."
Since April the force has carried out more than 700 hours of dedicated Op Sparkler patrols across the county, to disrupt the drivers of serious violence such as gang and drug activity.
During these patrols the team has:
Arrested 33 people following stop and searches
Seized two knives and two firearms
Recovered hundreds of pounds worth of drugs and £1,300 of cash.
The funding will also boost the force’s analytical capability, as well as helping the force use evidence based policing to partner with academics to come up with long term sustainable solutions.
PCC Mr Akinbusoye said: “I am pleased that the Government has once again recognised the significant challenges we face from violence and exploitation here in Bedfordshire.
“We have seen strong evidence that having a police presence out on patrol, even for just a short time, can cut serious violence in areas most affected by violent crime by around a quarter.
“I know how important it is for our communities to see a visible police presence and this extra funding will help us do that.
“While enforcement is important, I want us to continue our relentless focus on prevention, signposting young and vulnerable people to support services and other activities which will stop them becoming embroiled in this lifestyle.”
The funding will further bolster the force’s front line, with the force also benefitting from 179 additional officers by March 2023 due to the Government’s police uplift campaign.
Bedfordshire is one of several force areas facing the biggest challenges around serious violence to be awarded the funding, which is part of the Home Office’s grip funding initiative.
The grip funding initiative aims to cut violence by giving additional funding to forces to support short-term suppression of levels of serious violence, as well as longer-term problem-solving strategies in hotspot areas.
It is the latest in a series of recent grants to help police and other agencies tackle violent crime in the county.
The Bedfordshire Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) is one of 21 units across the country coordinating the response to serious violence across a whole host of different agencies as well as communities, investing in things like community projects for young people and activities in schools.
Millions of pounds have also been awarded by ministers to support the work of Boson, the force’s specialist guns and gangs unit.
Bedfordshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Sharn Basra said: “These targeted patrols in areas blighted by serious violence are a key part of our comprehensive plan to tackle serious violence and keep people safe.
“The VERU and grip funding work seamlessly together to target our prevention, diversion and early intervention through things like the TREE project, which brings police and youth workers together to go out and engage with young people.
“The other part of this is our police work through hot spot patrols and targeting perpetrators, through tactics like stop and search and then further enforcement where we have to.
“One victim of serious violence is one too many and we can and must do more to ensure all our communities are protected from those involved in violence, exploitation and organised crime.”