Crime Commissioner bids for £4.571m Emergency Bail out for Bedfordshire

Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, has submitted an emergency bid of £4.571m to the Government’s Special Policing Grant fund to continue to pay for the county’s fight against gang, gun and knife crime in a bid to save young lives.

Commissioner Holloway is calling on the Government to cover the unprecedented spend on the fight against the spread of gangs, knife carrying and gun use.

The call follows an incident where a 16-year-old was stabbed to death on the streets of Bedford on a Sunday in September, another where seven young people ended up in hospital in Luton on the same evening with knife wounds after a fight involving teenagers.

Kathryn Holloway said this week, "I’ve personally been present when a single weapons amnesty bin was opened at Halsey Road in Bedford which was found to contain four guns, a serrated zombie knife of over two feet in length, a vast Malaysian machete, a ceremonial sword and a selection of machetes, cleavers and kitchen knives, adding up to 109 bladed weapons in total.

"Nobody can tell me that we are not fighting an unprecedented threat and, given the Force’s well-documented financial stresses, I need extra help with the budget to save children’s lives and this is no exaggeration whatever,” said the Commissioner.

“I have now taken the unprecedented step of submitting a bid for £4.571m to the Home Office, fully evidencing the expense of all the work done in Bedfordshire on knife, gun and gang crime across the county, over the past two years and the spend that is anticipated this year. This sum does not even include the amount which has had to be spent on extra Armed Policing Unit vehicles and the cost of manning and running them.

“In my view, this is precisely why the Government increased the Policing Special Grant Fund, to cover financial pressures on policing which lie outside the ordinary to £93m for this financial year. The Home Office has allowed the cost of an accumulation of events to be claimed this year with one key example being the bid of Thames Valley Police to cover the disproportionate level of costs which fell on that force from the Royal Wedding and Trump visit this summer so far.

Policing Minister, Nick Hurd, has confirmed that Mrs Holloway has submitted a bid to the emergency Special Grant fund in the House of Commons (in September 2018 in response to a question from South West Bedfordshire MP, Andrew Selous.)

An answer can be expected in November.

The bid was approved by cross-party councillors from all three of Bedfordshire’s unitary authorities -  Bedford and Luton Borough Councils and Central Bedfordshire Council.

Mr Boutcher described the work of the Force in Bedfordshire’s schools, including his own visits each month and that of Chief Insp. Juliette Everett who leads the fight against knife crime, including liaison with retailers to ensure responsible sales of knives. He detailed the very regular meetings between partners in local authorities and police to identify and produce plans around those believed to be most at risk of gang violence. Mr Boutcher described a recent panel held with young people and community members from gang hotspots and pointed to the success in Glasgow of involving the Health Service in work to counter youth violence.

Dangers of Gangs

The PCC has also commissioned a hard-hitting drama about the dangers of gangs to be presented to all pupils of 11 and over in the county’s schools this year and the training of 2,000 pupils and as many teachers and youth workers to recognise the signs of gang membership and vulnerability. Commissioner Holloway described the work her office runs and funds with families of those who have died as a result of youth violence in the county to pass on their direct experience, such as Channitta Lendore in Bedford and the youth workers behind the ‘Right to Shine’ youth clubs for young people in Lewsey Farm and a recording studio for older teenagers and those in their early 20s, in Luton.

“There is simply no way that the Chief Constable and I could be accused of sitting on our hands where our young people and gang, gun and knife crime are concerned. This danger is one of the top priorities of both the Force and my office and we are doing all possible to help communities, within our budgets, to work with police to get on top of this modern menace and save young people and to bring home available Government funds to Bedfordshire,” she said.

“All this costs money and the fight against serious youth violence ferociously absorbs resources: we need this particular emergency assistance from the Policing Special Grant to build on this foundation. Quite simply, we need this money,” she told the Police and Crime Panel.