Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire | WYPCC

Local and regional partners have come together to look at how to take action against serious violence in communities

8 July 2019

The event was organised by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) for West Yorkshire, in conjunction with the Home Office.

Held at the Royal Armouries it brought together partners from the NHS, fellow PCCs, police, probation, public health, education, local authorities, and community safety partnerships, voluntary and community groups.

Speakers included Nick Hunt, Head of the Serious Violence Unit at the Home Office, Mark Burns-Williamson, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for West Yorkshire. Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Russ Foster, and an address from Victoria Atkins, Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability.

Mr Burns-Williamson said: "This event, in partnership with the Home Office, brought key partners together to help understand what the public health approach looks like in tackling serious violence very importantly, involving our partners and communities.

"Whilst policing and law enforcement has a key role, as partners we have to intervene earlier, including in schools, to ensure we are providing an alternative to those young people vulnerable to being drawn into a world of serious crime. The new investment in establishing Violent Crime Reduction Units (VRUs) is an important step forward to formulate a better collective understanding and find solutions that will last.

"However, reducing violence is a long-term challenge requiring sustained investment and commitment from Government that needs to be followed through over at least the next 3 to 5 years and it is a role for many agencies, including public, voluntary and the private sector as well as communities themselves."

T/DCC Russ Foster said: "Reducing serious violent crime and offences involving knives is a major focus for West Yorkshire Police.

"West Yorkshire Police recognise the significant impact serious violence has on our communities and have launched a forcewide operation with bespoke deployment plans and targeted high visibility patrols.

"So far, this has resulted in an additional 1200 officers deployed in high visibility roles across the force delivering an extra 10,000 hours of patrol, resulting in 300 arrests, many of them for serious violence offences.

"Our communities and local partnerships will be at the heart of our multi-strand approach to tackling serious violent crime which includes knife crime."

One of many events across England, it highlighted the national and regional support available, discussed local action already underway and spotted new opportunities to work together to tackle serious violence.

It comes after Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced the provisional allocation of £35 million to 18 PCCs to set up violence reduction units, and that there will be an additional £1.5 million of funding for the third year of the Anti-Knife Crime Community Fund, which will go towards small community projects to reduce knife crime.

Victoria Atkins, Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability said: "The need to tackle this issue could not be more immediate, or the impact on families and communities more real.

"The Government's Serious Violence Strategy sets out the action we are taking to tackle the rise in violent crime.

"This places a greater emphasis on early intervention with young people and with multi-agency working."

Other speakers at the event included South Yorkshire PCC Alan Billings, Dr Victor Joseph, consultant in Public Health for Doncaster Council, Chief Superintendent Una Jennings from South Yorkshire Police, Inspector Ed Rogerson from North Yorkshire Police and Stewart Atkinson, contracts and commissioning manager, from Humberside OPCC.

Dr Alan Billings, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire recently visited Glasgow to look at the successful implementation of a Serious Violence Reduction Unit in the city over ten years ago and the success the scheme has had in reducing the number of shootings and stabbings.

"The public health approach treats violent crime as if it were a disease. The way to stop a disease spreading is by tacking the causes, not just dealing with those already infected. It's about prevention as much as cure," he said.

"The lesson of this approach is that if you are going to get to the roots of why people get caught up in violence and keep them away from it, you need a range of partners to help, not just the police.

"If organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors work together to tackle such issues as domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse and poverty at an early stage, and provide the right level of support and advice for families, I believe many young people can be steered away from a life involving serious violence."

Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner Keith Hunter said: "In line with the Governments' serious violence strategy, we are committed to early intervention and addressing the key drivers for violence. Our early intervention projects are aimed at giving young people alternatives, assisting them to make more positive choices and enabling safe and strong communities."