Beds, Herts & Bucks

Police in Luton prepare for 'more violence' after shootings

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Media captionPolice carrying sub-machine guns are patrolling two estates in Luton

Four extra armed response units are in Luton to deal with expected "further violence", police say.

Bedfordshire Police said there would be an increased presence in the Marsh Farm and Lewsey Farm estates after the recent spate of shootings.

There have been 16 gun-related incidents in the town this year, nine of which have been shootings.

Supt Dave Boyle said bringing those responsible to justice was its "number one priority".

Officers have said the latest victim, a 16-year-old boy shot in the back in Thricknells Close, Marsh Farm, on Sunday, may never walk again.

Armed police are patrolling the affected estates and, under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public order Act, can stop and search for weapons.

They are being supported by dog handlers and officers with access to Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology.

Council 'reassured'

Mr Boyle said invoking these policing tactics was "not something we do lightly".

"There has to be a set criteria which is that we are anticipating further serious violence and/or that we believe there may be individuals with weapons in those areas," he said.

"We have over and above our normal contingent of armed officers with a further four armed response vehicles working in the area."

He added it was not the force's "normal style of policing" but "necessary and proportionate given the circumstances".

"I am confident, given the number of resources, not just in terms of the overt policing resources, but those that are out developing intelligence, that we will identify those individuals that are responsible for this type of criminality and we will bring them to justice."

Luton Borough Council said it was "appalled" by the rise in gun crime.

A spokesman said the police had its "full support", it was in "constant contact" with them to monitor the situation and was "reassured" by the increased patrols.

"We will do everything we can to help them to stamp out this activity and bring those responsible to justice," a statement read.

"We appeal to anyone involved or considering violence to consider how these crimes ruin lives and reflect badly on the town that we know and love."

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