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Funding boosted to tackle serious violence

Police lights

The drive to reduce serious violence among young people in Avon and Somerset, through a multi-agency working group headed by PCC Sue Mountstevens, has been given renewed funding from the Home Office.

The Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), co-ordinated by the PCC, is made up of partners including police, all five local authorities, education, clinical commissioning groups, public health departments, charities and community groups.

The VRU was set up in September after PCC Sue Mountstevens and Chief Constable Andy Marsh pushed to be one of 18 force areas in England and Wales to be awarded additional money to tackle offences like stabbings and serious violence among young people – a problem that has soared nationally.

The VRU was initially given £1.16m and The Government has just announced a further £1.16m for Avon and Somerset for the financial year beginning in April 2020 – part of a national pot of £35million.

“We welcome the announcement from the Home Office of renewed funding to establish and build on a public health approach to tackling the root causes of these terrible offences that are having a devastating impact on victims, perpetrators, their families and entire communities. 

“If it gets to the stage where paramedics are picking these children up off the floor having been stabbed or police are arresting them for hurting someone then we have already failed. “We are going to have to be brave and understand that we can’t only police our way out of this issue and this is not going to go away overnight.

PCC Sue Mountstevens

This week the second strategic meeting took place in which partners met and discussed their initial findings from assessments of the scale of the problem in the five local authority areas and plans for the type of interventions they are planning to roll out for young people who are at risk of being involved in criminal exploitation, grooming and knife crime.