The Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley has welcomed the announcement today (Friday 1 April) of an additional £7m over three years from the Home Office Serious Violence Fund to support efforts to prevent and tackle serious violence and knife crime.
The funding is awarded to the Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) to continue its work coordinating the partnership response to serious violence across the Thames Valley.
There are two separate allocations:
- £5m over three years for the VRU’s programme of work to prevent young people being drawn into crime. It will fund education and mentoring work in schools, early intervention and diversion programmes.
- More than £2m over three years from the “Grip” fund. This supports Thames Valley Police to deliver additional proactive policing operations which target those areas with the highest levels of serious violence and those people who are committing violent crime and carrying weapons.
The Thames Valley VRU is a partnership body, one of 20 formed in 2019. It brings together representatives from Thames Valley Police, local authorities, education, health, youth offending, probation and prison services and the voluntary and community sector.
The VRU and its partners work to deliver more intervention and prevention work to combat the root causes of young people being drawn into crime in the first place.
It is has funded the development of a number of innovative early intervention projects, such as diversion programmes in A&Es and custody, mentorship programmes for vulnerable young people, created education materials for schools and developed the Drug Diversion Programmes to help people overcome substance misuse.
The Thames Valley VRU is also the national lead for data and information sharing and has invested in developing new ways of sharing information between partners to help inform partners as they respond to vulnerable young people and to address those at risk.
Welcoming the funding, Matthew Barber, Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, said:
“Tackling serious violence and knife crime remains a priority for the police, our partners and the communities we serve.
“This is a hugely welcome announcement, not only as it commits an additional £7m to support our efforts, but as it gives us budget confidence for the next three years. This allows us to plan and invest for the longer-term, which will lead to more effective and sustainable work.”
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 policing response to serious violence and knife crime.
“Serious violence, including knife crime, is down 12% year-to-date across the Thames Valley. We are having success, but we know we cannot let up.
“This latest funding further supports our work to intervene earlier and prevent violence from occurring in the first place, while my officers continue to bear down upon those small number of people who carry and use weapons, particularly young people.”
Stan Gilmour, the Director of the Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit, said:
“Since the Violence Reduction Unit was established three years ago we have made real progress. We are often seen as leading the way and as innovators with our initiatives.
“This comes from working across all partners, not just policing. Together, we take a public health approach, preventing violence like you would a disease, through earlier intervention and supporting young people to divert them away from crime.
“Three more years of funding will allow us to develop and embed programmes which can have real impact, working with our communities to keep the Thames Valley safe.”
The VRU must now develop an application against the two grants to fund activity for the next year.