More than £5m has been invested in Community Safety Partnerships and community pilot schemes to tackle and prevent violent crime from happening across Greater Manchester, an annual report has highlighted.

The Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) was launched in October 2019 and brings together Greater Manchester Police (GMP), Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), the National Probation Service as well as health, education and youth justice services and the VCSE sector to address the underlying causes of violent crime and to work together to prevent it.

An annual report has highlighted the progress the VRU has made since its launch and sets out a comprehensive plan for the coming months. The report highlights a total of £4.65m has been distributed to Community Safety Partnerships since the launch of the VRU, with the funding used for:

  • Working with education settings to keep pupils safe and reduce the likelihood of fixed term and permanent exclusions
  • Targeted prevention and desistence programmes for under 25’s
  • Mentoring or other forms of targeted interventions for young people at risk of involvement in violence or knife carrying
  • Youth activities, including outreach work, in communities most affected by violent crime
  • Action to identify and prosecute irresponsible retailers who sell knives and weapons to children and young people

The report also outlines how the VRU is working with residents and the voluntary sector to co-design solutions to problems with violence in their area, including how money is spent and when and where interventions are delivered as part of a £500,000 community-led pilot scheme currently running in parts of Bolton, Manchester, Salford, and Oldham.

The publication of the annual report comes as the Government announces further funding to tackle violent crime. This includes further surge funding for Greater Manchester Police to deliver enforcement activity including increased patrols, weapons sweeps and stop and search.

Bev Hughes, Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Fire said: “Through the Violence Reduction Unit, agencies, professionals and the voluntary sector are working together with communities to address the underlying causes of violence and identify solutions. This multi-agency, community-led approach is at the very heart of Greater Manchester’s approach to tackling serious violence and the hard work that has been taking place is beginning to show real results.

“Since 2020 more than 10,500 victims of violent crime have been referred to commissioned support. Alongside this, targeted police enforcement activity has led to weapons being taken off our streets; we have gained a greater understanding of knife-crime data; and a scheme in Tameside and Bury has improved the identification of and response to young people repeatedly involved with police and created a single referral pathway to support.

“We want to stop violence from happening in the first place, but for those already involved, we want to stop that from escalating and reduce the harm it causes in our city-region.”

Assistant Chief Constable, Rob Potts of Greater Manchester Police, said: "The Greater Manchester Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) has enabled us to consider the impact of policing across our local authority areas. Over the last twelve months, we have worked closely with a variety of partners to seek to understand the causes of violence within our communities. By gaining a greater understanding of the causes, it means we can begin to proactively take steps to prevent violence in the future.

"The key principle of the VRU is teamwork amongst partners, as police cannot tackle the causes of violent crime alone. It's vital that all partners within the VRU are sharing information and most importantly, working together with local communities to understand why violent crime is happening, so a plan can be developed which ensures we can provide the appropriate support.

"The causes of why a young person becomes involved in violent crime are complex, and can only be addressed as a team. We need to continue to work together to support the young people of Greater Manchester by providing them with skills and opportunities as they develop and help them to live violence free lives.

"The work of the VRU is always evolving as we continue to learn from each other and our communities; which is something everyone should be able to benefit from, especially the younger members of our society, now, and for many years to come."

Greater Manchester’s Serious Violence Action Plan, which launched in July 2020, was developed through community engagement across the 10 Greater Manchester boroughs, with researchers engaging with individuals and educators to gauge what concerns they had about violence in their communities and how they would like the VRU to respond. In total the team engaged with over 600 residents and 300 schools and colleges, with VRU staff continuing to work with schools and colleges despite the national lockdown.

Other work underway is the commissioning of a ‘navigator’ intervention service at Greater Manchester hospitals. The service is aimed at vulnerable 10 to 25-year-olds who attend or are admitted to A&E departments because of violence to help them access support and to prevent further violence.

The VRU is modelled on a public health approach to tackling violence, which was first developed in Glasgow. The community-led, place based approach, sees local residents actively involved in identifying problems and solutions while being directly involved in investments in their own communities.


Article Published: 08/03/2021 16:44 PM