Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire | WYPCC

£3.3m earmarked to tackle serious violence in West Yorkshire

8th February 2021

It has today (08/02) been announced that the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) is set to receive just over £3.3m of Government funding to continue in its efforts to tackle serious violent crime during 2021/22.

Through a unique public heath-led approach, the VRU brings together organisations across local communities to tackle underlying causes. It also helps fund vital local projects that undertake positive preventative work with children and young people.

Now into its second year, the unit has a partnership emphasis, with specialists from health, police, local authorities, education, youth justice, prisons, probation, community groups and others.

Up to March 2020, the West Yorkshire VRU had commissioned 35 local violence reduction interventions and engaged with over 16,000 people aged under 25.

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Mark Burns-Williamson OBE who is also the national APCC lead for tackling serious violence said: “I am pleased that Ministers and the Home Office have recognised the value and ongoing work of our West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) by committing to another year of funding.

“Today’s announcement means that we will be able continue to invest in projects, which support young people in particular, diverting them away from violence, harm and exploitation.

“Robust police enforcement is important in bringing violent offenders to justice and protecting communities, but when partners come together, recognising what can be achieved by adopting a wider public-health approach, we can also address some of the longer-term underlying issues and prevent violence in the first place with effective early intervention measures.

“It still remains though that there is a real need for longer term funding over the next CSR period from Government to ensure a sustained impact on reducing violence for years to come.”

Director of the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) Chief Superintendent Jackie Marsh said: “This is really positive news and means that we can continue to deliver our collaborative and bespoke response to serious violent crime across the county.

“There are so many fantastic local projects and interventions already underway that rely upon sustained financial support though the VRU and this announcement will ensure we can keep moving towards our collective goal of keeping people safe and seeing fewer victims.

“For our young people in particular, it allows them to receive the necessary education and support that will to help change behaviours and experiences of violent crime in the long term.

“Only last week was it reported that knife crime in West Yorkshire had fallen nearly 12% since the launch of ‘Operation Jemlock’, which works shoulder to shoulder with the VRU to specifically target serious violent crime.

“Our future plans include looking at the risk and vulnerability exposed by Covid-19, with ongoing research projects revolving around education inclusion and social inequalities, which are key.

“We also understand that additional Government funding is also to be made available under a ‘winter contingency package’ that can be delivered through VRUs to local charities and social enterprises, supporting vulnerable young people at risk of involvement in violence through the lockdown period.”