Violence Reduction Units from across the country work together to prevent violence
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As the national violence reduction programme enters its third year, Violence Reduction Units (VRUs) from across England and Wales will meet on Thursday (15 July) to evaluate their progress in reducing violence and helping to build stronger, more resilient communities.
Launched in 2019, VRUs bring together different organisations, including the police, local government, health, community leaders and other key partners to tackle violent crime by understanding its root causes.
VRUs adopt a public health approach to violence reduction; this means focusing on understanding the causes of the problem and on testing, evaluating and upscaling interventions. Considering factors such as physical environment, health and education, can help to identify the interventions that will be most successful.
The Sussex Violence Reduction Partnership’s (VRP) focus has been targeting the risk factors in young people that can increase vulnerability and potential involvement in serious violence.
In East Sussex, the VRP is running a programme in College Central aimed at reducing the risk of young people being drawn into exploitation and serious violence. There was a 63% decrease in Fixed Term Exclusions across the 2019/20 academic year and numbers of young people coming to attention through the service also saw an 80% reduction compared with the previous year (Sept to Dec 2020 vs. Sept to Dec 2019).
In Brighton and Hove, young people at high risk of being involved in serious violence were engaged through outreach work and community sessions offered through a range of third-sector providers. 242 youth work sessions and 1,826 interventions were completed across the city between May 2020 and March 2021, with youth workers targeting hotspot areas and providing guidance and support on a range of issues including the impact of Covid restrictions on young people’s mental health.
In just the first three months of 2021, West Sussex provided 274 one-to-one music-based sessions through the charity, AudioActive. These sessions have been positively received by schools, parents and carers, and have assisted in reducing young people’s levels of offending, providing increased skills to build their self-esteem and resilience to criminal behaviour.
The VRU national conference provides an opportunity to hear from experts across the country on key themes, such as the role of education in reducing violence and provides an opportunity to learn from other units and collaborate with peers.
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne, said: “Our Violence Reduction Partnership has enabled Sussex Police, local authorities, community projects, Public Health England and the NHS to come together and develop a more dynamic approach to tackling serious violence, targeting the areas where interventions are needed the most.
"I’m proud that in Sussex public sector organisations are taking a united stand against serious violence by working together to make a real difference.”
Chief Superintendent Tanya Jones said: “The Violence Reduction Partnership allows us to work closely with partners on a holistic approach to addressing the complex factors behind violent crime.
“Tackling violence is not solely about prosecuting individuals. We need to try and understand the reasons why a person might become involved in these offences if we are to intervene at an early stage and prevent this sort of crime.
“We adopt an evidence-based approach and have already seen encouraging levels of engagement across the county. We will continue to fully evaluate the work, in liaison with our partner agencies, to ensure it is successful in deterring and redirecting young people and children away from violent crime.”
The conference will be attended by representatives from all 18 VRUs across England and Wales. Local, regional, and national stakeholders – people already working within violence reduction or those who would like to find out more about how these systems could work better together – are invited to join the conference. For more information, contact GMVRU@greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk.
For further information about the Sussex VRP, visit the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner website here.