Violence Reduction Units tackle serious violence and prevent young people being drawn into it
The government announced on Monday (8 February 2021) that it will provide funding for the 18 Violence Reduction Units (VRU) operating across England and Wales. The £35.5 million, which covers 2021/22, is the third year of funding for the VRUs which are based in areas worst affected by serious violence.
VRUs (or VERU in Bedfordshire) bring together organisations across local communities to tackle violent crime and address its underlying causes. These units also help fund vital local projects that do positive preventative work with children and young people.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said:
“Violence Reduction Units play a vital role in preventing young people from being dragged into the horrors of serious violence, and this funding will enable them to continue this crucial work.”
In their first year of activity, initiatives funded by the scheme supported more than 100,000 young people, more than 51,000 of whom were identified as being at high-risk of being involved in criminal and violent activity.
They also helped bring police, education leaders, health workers and local government together to share information about the causes of violence and agree a coordinated plan of action to tackle it.
National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Violence & Vulnerability, assistant chief constable Jackie Sebire, said:
“Less than two years ago, Violence Reduction Units were launched to tackle the root causes of serious violence as policing saw an increase in this type of criminality.
“In that time, these specialist units, which work in partnership with other agencies, have already made a significant change in how we approach serious violence and vulnerability, allowing targeted and evidenced-based interventions.”
“We welcome the commitment from government in tackling serious violence and this funding will allow the units to continue to support young people and keep communities safe.”
A statement released by the office of the police and crime officer (OPCC) said Bedfordshire’s Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) has helped to drive down serious youth violence in the county by almost 9% to March 2020. Bedfordshire police and crime commissioner (PCC), Kathryn Holloway said that this means that some 200 young people are still alive today or living without life-changing injuries. She added:
“From the beginning of August 2020 to January, Bedfordshire Police has had no reports of firearms use directly attributed to the county’s gangs or Organised Crime Groups.
“No fatal shot was fired for the whole of last year in a county which has been plagued by gang related use of guns.
“The dramatic fall in victims and plateauing of knife crime admissions to Bedfordshire’s Hospitals show conclusively that gang violence and exploitation have continued to fall over the past year in Bedfordshire and the specialist VERU has played a massive part in this.”
The funding for 21/22 (Bedfordshire’s allocation is £880,000) is subject to proposals being agreed by the Home Office. The Home Office said that it “looks forward” to receiving the full details of Bedfordshire’s plans.
When asked why the OPCC said that the PCC had won the funding before a proposal had been agreed, the PCC said:
“The Home Office is happy with our submissions and the demonstrably excellent progress on reducing Serious Youth Violence in Bedfordshire 2019-21.”
More information on the VERU can be found here.