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PCC and local partners launch Violence Reduction Units

Officers with young adults

Work to tackle the root cause of knife crime and serious violence in Avon and Somerset is underway following the PCC’s inaugural Strategic Violence Reduction Unit meeting.

Sue Mountstevens brought together local partners including the five local authorities, Avon and Somerset Police, Public Health England, clinical commissioning groups and education in each area to meet for the first time since the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner was awarded £1.16m by the Home Office in June to set up a Violence Reduction Unit as part of the government’s national Serious Violence Strategy.

The first meeting took place as national police Operation Sceptre rolled out a series of education workshops in schools across Avon and Somerset.

“After a successful first meeting with the VRUs, I firmly believe that by working together on a public health approach we can tackle serious violence and keep our communities safe.

“By taking action together we can protect the most vulnerable in our communities from becoming victims, we can stop young people from being exploited and we can find solutions to support those at risk of being drawn into a life of violence. I know all our partners are passionate about working on new and pre-existing initiatives in their area and, as the PCC, I look forward to supporting their work.”

PCC Sue Mountstevens

It is widely recognised that a public health approach of education and diversion is desperately needed alongside enforcement in order to solve the problem of serious violence and knife crime on our streets.

The PCC has allocated the VRU funding to the five local authority areas within Avon and Somerset according to the level and nature of serious violence they are experiencing so that opportunities for prevention and early intervention can be identified locally and given a local response.

The five local authorities are tasked with working with education, health and police partners, to identifying the drivers of serious violence in their area and collaborate in developing a co-ordinated responses to tackle them.

The PCC commissioned a special report by The Behavioural Insights Team. Entitled ‘Developing a Serious Violence Strategy for Avon and Somerset’ the report will provide a starting point for the VRU in understanding the nature of serious violence across the area as well as providing evidence on how to approach the issue.