Millions Injected into the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit (12 Aug 2019)

A funding boost of almost £3.4m has today (12/08) been confirmed by the Home Office that will see the creation of a dedicated Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) in West Yorkshire led and co-ordinated through the Office of Police & Crime Commissioner.

It follows the announcement by the Home Office on 18th June 2019, which saw £35m provisionally allocated to Police and Crime Commissioners in 18 police areas. This is in addition to the £4.2m of 'surge' money already awarded to the county earlier this summer to help crack down on violent crime through targeted operations.

Violence Reduction Units will take a multi-agency approach, bringing together police, local government, public health, voluntary/third sector, community leaders and other key partners to tackle violent crime and its underlying causes. They will be responsible for identifying the drivers of serious violence locally and develop a coordinated response to tackle them.

Following today's announcement, West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Mark Burns-Williamson, who is also the Serious Violence Lead for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC), said:

"The confirmation that this money is coming to West Yorkshire to allow us collectively to further address issues of violent crime, is clearly a step in the right direction, albeit somewhat delayed and only for this financial year up until March 2020.

"What is important, however, is that there is a long term plan attached to this, which will ensure the longevity and sustainability of the programme, hopefully with continued resourcing beyond 2020, which will be crucial in having the desired impact for the future and something I will be taking up directly with Government Ministers.

"With this in mind, we will accelerate work with our partners in the coming weeks to determine exactly how the unit will be delivered and what we want it to achieve in a local context.

"This will mean maximising the monies that we have been provided and identifying the projects and work that will offer the biggest impact in West Yorkshire.

"We will be considering the role that Community Safety Partnerships might play within each of their respective Districts and how we build upon some of the successes we have already seen. 

"The Violence Reduction Unit will not just revolve around one element of violent crime, like knife crime, but will be used across all aspects. It will centre heavily on early intervention and prevention, bolstering many of the local projects which we have already and previously been engaged with.

"For instance, we have already forged close relationships across a number of key areas after our successful bid under the Early Intervention Youth Fund and this puts us in a strong position to move forward in West Yorkshire.

"We made it clear in our initial submission in establishing the VRU that improving the support provided to victims, as well as witnesses, close relatives and friends who may also be traumatised by what has happened to them, is a high priority. 

"We intend to work closely with our currently commissioned victim service providers and others, such as the NHS, to make sure that the unit has strong links with the analytical support available; and that lessons are learned to enable us to improve it and concentrate work and resources where they are most needed, to reduce all forms of violence wherever possible.

"Taking into account the nature of violent crime, we will also be exploring various options, like restorative approaches, as well as the other forms of dedicated support available."

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2019