Funding allocated for the Sussex Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) to continue
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Public sector organisations are taking a united stand against serious violence in Sussex by working together to make a difference to communities.
Further funding from the Home Office has been allocated to continue the activities of the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) into 2020/2021 in a partnership between Sussex Police, Brighton and Hove City Council, East Sussex County Council, West Sussex County, Public Health England, the NHS and others.
We believe serious violence is preventable if we act together as communities to tackle its root causes. By sharing information about the early signs that may lead to violent crime, we can focus our attention where it will make the biggest long-term impact.
The VRU adopts a public health approach to addressing violence by identifying where resources are most needed. This has included tactics such as establishing early interventions to help vulnerable young people, delivering educational programmes about the consequences of carrying weapons, training staff in schools and hospitals to identify children who need additional support and working with community organisations with expertise in social exclusion and young people’s mental health.
Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Katy Bourne said: "The partnership approach to violence reduction that the VRUs coordinate really works and I’m pleased that the Home Office has recognised this.
“Sussex Police have been working hard with partners to intervene, rehabilitate, and divert people away from crime; especially young people and we are all committed to securing the future of these initiatives.
“The work of the VRUs and the recent launch of the new Tactical Enforcement Unit show that Sussex Police are steadfast in their aim of stamping out serious violence from our communities and safeguarding our most vulnerable.”
Superintendent Ed De La Rue said: “We need a holistic approach to addressing the complex driving factors behind violent crime in our region.
“Thanks to funding from the Home Office we have established the Violence Reduction Unit with our partners to work together to treat violent crime as the public health issue that it is.
"Tackling violence is not solely about arresting and prosecuting individuals. We need to closely examine the reasons people become embroiled in violence to prevent this sort of crime. By working in tandem with local authorities and Public Health England, we can get a much clearer picture of the many factors at play and work to create better futures for young people.”
East Sussex County Council’s Lead Member for Adult Social Care and Health, Cllr Carl Maynard, said: “We are pleased to be part of this partnership and to be working with Sussex Police and others to tackle this issue. Understanding the causes of violent crime and working with young people to prevent it is complex. That’s why a joined-up approach is so vital.”
West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Fire & Rescue and Communities, Duncan Crow, said: “The issue of violent crime is one that is of concern in many communities countywide. By working together with partners, we can achieve so much more than we could as individual organisations and really look to target the cause of violent crime in Sussex. The funding allocation will allow this vital work to continue over the coming year.”
The programme in action – breaking the cycle of reoffending
In East Sussex, a new scheme is putting adult offenders on a different path for the long term.
For certain crimes, offenders are often given a fine or community order, with no accountability to the victim or support to address underlying issues which may have led to the crime taking place.
Evidence shows that, for some young adults and those at an early stage of offending behaviour, one or more relatively minor crimes can progressively escalate over time. For example, offenders with substance misuse problems often continue on the path of acquisitive crime without help.
For offenders who admit their guilt at the point of charge for certain crimes, Checkpoint is now being considered as a diversion option in East Sussex.
Checkpoint clients are given a dedicated Case Worker, who works with them over several months to address the issues they face personally.
When offenders come to police attention, this can be an early warning sign that a holistic perspective is needed. For example, substance misuse can impact upon housing and employment prospects, which a criminal record will only jeopardise further.
Checkpoint Case Workers give support to be that ‘missing link’ that joins up the services needed to get individuals back on track and accountable for their crimes, whether it be housing, education, support with debt or substance misuse or other issues.
Case Workers work with clients to put together a personalised plan based on their situation. One young adult on the scheme had been excluded from college after a number of incidents, giving him no chance to complete his qualifications. The Case Worker agreed with the college that he could continue to attend with her, and has since completed his course thereby opening up his career prospects,
Another current client, who was sleeping rough, has now secured housing and a full time job thanks to the support of his Case Worker.
Still in early stages, it is anticipated that the programme will have a positive impact by reducing reoffending for participants, and equip them with the skills they need to have a more positive future.