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Further £1.8m in funding to tackle serious violence across the Thames Valley

The Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley has welcomed confirmation that two bids to the Home Office Serious Violence Fund have been successful, totalling over £1.8m.

A further £1.16m in funding has been awarded to the Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) to continue with its work coordinating the partnership response to serious violence across the Thames Valley, with a focus on tackling the root causes of violence.

The Thames Valley VRU was formed in 2019, one of 18 new partnership bodies established to develop a public health approach tackling serious violence. It brings together representatives from Thames Valley Police, local authorities, education, health, youth offending, probation and prison services and others, who work together to tackle serious violence at its earliest point.

This latest successful application will fund its work throughout 2021/2022, taking a public health approach to tackling serious violence by identifying the ways to prevent it in the first place.  This includes:

  • Ensuring statutory partners are ready to deliver their responsibilities under the Serious Violence Duty, which is expected to pass into law in summer 2022
  • Continuing to identify the risk factors that lead to someone being drawn into serious violence and knife crime
  • Working to protect the vulnerable and particularly young people
  • Developing and funding new early intervention programmes and liaison services, such as Hospital Navigators and Custody Intervention Coaches
  • Tackling county drug lines which fuel violence and exploitation
  • Developing new approaches to sharing and analysing multi-agency information to inform the response and take action with those most at risk
  • Working to understand the impact of trauma and early childhood adverse experiences and develop new approaches to supporting people to prevent crime.

 The second funding award of £735,000 is for delivery of targeted policing activity to tackle serious violence in specific hotspot areas. Previously known as ‘Surge’ funding, it was used to fund additional activity by Thames Valley Police such as additional high visibility patrols, weapons sweeps and targeted police operations against suspected carriers of weapons.

Now renamed the ‘Grip’ fund, it will be used to deliver similar focused policing activity in carefully identified areas – not just larger urban areas, but working at an even finer level, down to specific streets.

The ‘Grip’ funding will support further intelligence and analytical capacity to better identify hotspot areas and develop the policing plans, taking a proactive problem-solving approach to those areas most at risk of violence.  Operational response will see increased high visibility patrols including use of specialist resources, regular community engagement, use of stop and search where appropriate and intelligence-led policing.

Welcoming the funding, Matthew Barber, the Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley, said:

“Tackling serious violence and knife crime remains a priority for the police, our partners and the communities we serve. 

“I welcome the continued government investment in the Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit, which is leading the way with its public health approach to tackling the root causes of violence.

“This latest funding will allow it to continue to deliver early intervention and prevention programmes, while the additional resourcing for operational policing activity allows us to increase focused enforcement in those areas that are most at risk of serious violence.”

Deputy Chief Constable Jason Hogg, Thames Valley Police, said:

“Our officers and staff are committed to keeping all our communities in the Thames Valley safe and we continue to work closely with the Violence Reduction Unit to deliver the operational policing response.

“This latest funding further supports our work to bear down upon those small number of people who carry weapons, particularly young people, and to deliver a focused deterrent to those most at risk of offending.” 

Stan Gilmour, the Director of the Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit, said: 

“After only our second year of operation we are seeing some strong results, with knife crime down 11% year-on-year.  This comes from working across all partners, not just policing, as together we seek to address the factors that cause violence in the first place.   

“We are looking ahead, just a year to go until the Serious Violence Duty passes into law and we will use this latest funding to coordinate activity across local partners to ensure we are ready.”