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Deputy PCC visits Somerset Violence Reduction Unit

DPCC, VRU OPCC Representatives with Somerset VRU Team and Partners

Earlier this month, Deputy PCC Claire Hiscott visited the Somerset Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) to find out more about the work they do.

The Deputy PCC met with coordinator Clare Stuart, Sergeant Charmaine Dyne and representatives from Teachable Moments and Somerset Drug and Alcohol Service.

Clare, provided an overview of the fantastic work happening across Somerset, detailing the VRU’s priorities, which include tackling the root causes of serious violence, provision of early intervention initiatives for young people (aged 10 – 17 years) and identifying and working with repeat offenders.

The VRU team have strong working relationships with local partners, ensuring they share intelligence and data where possible. Together, they use a public health and trauma informed approach to their work.

Below outlines a number of the Somerset VRU initiatives.

Somerset VRU and partners resources.

Somerset hotspots

Avon and Somerset Police force analysts have studied police data and identified hotspot locations that need targeted attention. 11 of these locations are in Somerset and will see the policing service implementing pulse patrols. Such patrols involves officers patrolling specific hot spot areas for 15 minutes every four hours across 20 hours of the day and night. This increased visibility acts as a deterrent and aims to reassure those who lives and work locally. Additional work includes Avon and Somerset Police working with partners to tackle issues in these specific areas.

Early intervention

The Early Intervention Team (EIT) is made up of police officers and PCSOs, providing a wider contextual approach to safeguarding. This includes exploring opportunities to divert young people away from serious violence and improving relationships with agencies. Work occurs within the community, beyond schools and educational settings and may includes linking in with sports or activities while accessing 1:1 mentoring.

Jump Start Mentoring

Over the last three years, Somerset Activity and Sports Partner (SASP) have worked closely with the VRU team and partners to offer the Jump Start Mentors initiative, which has worked with over 780 young people. Jump Start Mentors supports young people (aged 8 -18 years) who are known to the police, struggling to stay in school or have chaotic home lives. They are introduced to physical activity (sports) through established links with local sports clubs or active youth sessions. The aim is that the young person becomes part of that club, which then fosters a sense of belonging and improves self esteem. The project is seeing previous attendees ‘graduate’ SASP’s leadership programme and move onto further education.

Teachable Moments

A teachable moment intervention for young people involves taking advantage of an important moment in their life, when they are likely to be most receptive, to offer support and opportunities which encourages them onto a positive life course.

Somerset School Inclusion Project

There is a proven strong correlation between exclusion from school and involvement in the Criminal Justice System and experience of prison. Somerset’s education inclusion project intervenes at the key teachable moment to work with the young person, their family and their school to support them to avoid exclusion and remain in education. Since its inception, the Youth Justice Support workers have engaged with 250 students across 14 local secondary schools. 150 of those students have identified special education needs (SEN), which is a recurring theme shaping the response.

Admit A&E Project

A visit to a local hospital can also be a key teachable moment for a young person who is involved in serious violence, misusing drugs or alcohol.

Turning Point Services (part of Somerset Drug and Alcohol Service) run a project called Admit, which takes place at weekends at Musgrove Park Hospital and Yeovil General Hospital A&E departments. We heard how Somerset Drugs and Alcohol Service works with young people and their families to build positive relationships and explore harm reduction tactics. There are also exciting plans around digitising information to be accessed anytime via a QR code at A&E.

“I would like to extend my appreciation to all of those who came to the Somerset VRU meeting. I’m very impressed with the diversionary activities and variety of youth engagement that is available to young people.

“Thank you to everyone within the VRU team; your trauma-informed and collaborative working approach is making a different to young people and the wider community in Somerset.”

Deputy PCC Claire Hiscott