New initiative under way to ‘Build a Better Bedwell’
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A major new partnership initiative is underway by Hertfordshire Constabulary, Stevenage Borough Council and the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office to reduce crime and create a safer Bedwell.
Two government initiatives, ‘Clear, Hold, Build’ and ‘Safer Streets’ are helping police and partners locally to take a robust approach to reducing drugs, anti-social behaviour and violent crime in the Bedwell area of Stevenage.
Renamed by children from Brooms Barnes Primary School as ‘Build a Better Bedwell’, the initiatives seek to ‘clear’ an area of drugs and neighbourhood crime through proactive warrants and arrests; prevent further criminality during the ‘hold’ phase; and ‘build’ the area over the longer-term with the community, introducing sustainable target hardening measures.
Since May 2023, Hertfordshire Constabulary have executed 11 warrants and arrested more than 50 people in connection with drug crime in the Bedwell area, disrupting 11 county lines. Following this, the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Hertfordshire secured £765,000 in funding from the Home Office’s fund together with matched funded contributions from local partners, to roll out a range of measures including CCTV, secure by design door entry systems, and garage defenders.
The funding will also see Harrow and Brent Court supported with new Community Wardens during the daytime and patrols from a private security company Parkguard, during the nighttime to tackle drug dealing, violence and vagrancy. These high visibility patrols will ensure relevant information and intelligence is gathered and used to support the local policing team and Stevenage Borough Council to improve measures for residents living in the target area and surrounding streets.
In support of the funding application, officers from the Stevenage Neighbourhood Policing team visited all the flats in Harrow, Brent and High Plash Courts to understand residents’ concerns regarding crime, ASB and quality of life issues. A survey targeting the young people who live and use the area was also issued and promoted through youth groups and local schools to hear the voice of young people.
Money secured by the PCC will also see the charity - Sports Traider, set up a sports shop locally, to support Bedwell and give young people the opportunity to participate in sport and divert from the lure of county lines.
Stevenage Chief Inspector Graeme Walsingham said: “This new initiative aims to take out county lines gangs, prevent violence, prevent the flow of harmful drugs and cut down on antisocial behaviour. It is an excellent example of partnership working with the local community at the heart of it all. If it is successful, we will be rolling it out to other areas of Stevenage with the aim of building resilience in communities, keeping out drugs and drug related crime and preventing those most at risk from being drawn into criminal behaviour.”
Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd added: “This area has been affected by higher levels of anti-social behaviour, drug dealing and violent crime. I am glad to see additional measures being put in place to tackle this. We have seen from previous projects that Safer Streets initiatives can make a real difference in people’s lives. The additional CCTV combined with increased patrols and targeted police operations can successfully reduce fear of crime in communities.”
Councillor Jackie Hollywell, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety at Stevenage Borough Council, said: “We’ve listened to residents’ concerns in Bedwell and know the priorities that they feel strongly about us addressing. Build a Better Bedwell will regenerate the area, reduce crime, and tackle anti-social behaviour, all of which will improve the neighbourhood and ensure that our communities feel safe.”
Chief Inspector Graeme Walsingham, Jane Konopka, Community Development Manager at Stevenage Borough Council and Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Lewis Cocking, at Brent Court with Harrow Court in the background.