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25th June 2020


Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness has revealed the life-changing organisations which will benefit from nearly £1m in Violence Reduction Unit funding.

The specialist Violence Reduction Unit was set up earlier this year by the police commissioner in a bid to ensure Northumbria remains a safe region, with a team dedicated to preventing violence among at risk teenagers and adults.

30 organisations across the Northumbria area have been awarded a share of £930,000 as part of joint efforts to reduce violent crime, ensuring much needed investment in vital youth and community services suffering after ten years of austerity.

The chosen projects will focus on ensuring that the violent crime seen in other cities does not become a reality in the North East. The Police Commissioner’s Violence Reduction Unit will at first focus on early intervention, youth diversion, mental health, and drugs, alcohol & homelessness.

Projects benefiting from the funding include:

  • The Foundation of Light’s Kicks Town scheme, using sport to give young people worthwhile activities.
  • Increasing the reach of the YOLO project across the Northumbria area. The scheme works with 8-14 year-olds who are at risk of slipping into a life of crime and prevents them from becoming involved in anti-social behaviour, knife crime and serious youth violence.
  • Changing Lives’ street support officers, helping address the issued which lead people to begging and becoming at risk of being a victim or perpetrator of serious violence.
  • A Newcastle United Foundation scheme dedicated to helping young people avoid violent behaviour

The Violence Reduction Unit will build on the techniques first seen on the streets of Glasgow, where police, councils, the NHS and charities worked with communities to treat violence as a public health emergency. This hugely successful approach saw at risk people targeted early in order to prevent crime, and is credited with a 50% reduction in some violent offending.

The 30 projects receiving funding will commit to this  public health approach to crime reduction, working  with Northumbria Police, six local authorities, health, education, and other service providers to better understand the root causes of violent crime.

Launching the VRU funding, Kim McGuinness said: “By establishing a Violence Reduction Unit we are saying loud and clear, we will not accept rising crime in our region. Northumbria is not a violent place, it’s safe and it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep it that way.

“I’m incredibly proud that so many local organisations, from charities to housing providers, have quickly come together with local councils and our NHS and committed to the goal of preventing crime before it happens. They are making the changes necessary in our region to give people opportunities, improve lives and divert people from crime.

“Violent crime is a symptom of inequality, and like a contagious disease it spreads if we don’t treat it. By taking urgent measures now we can prevent this. Ten years of austerity has shown that when you cut public services such as youth services, Sure Start and help for those with addiction or mental health needs, crime rises.

“The funding I have provided will help people in the short term, but this is something we need the government to commit to long term. We need a long term fix to solve deep-rooted issues.”

Funding for the Violence Reduction Unit was secured by the Police Commissioner from the Home Office. At present funding is only in place until March 2020, and the Commissioner has called on all political parties to commit to providing a dedicated interventions fund from next year onwards.

The Commissioner’s VRU has the long term vision of reducing violence by providing a clear support route for individuals and families. Its success will depend on organisations coming together to make tackling violence everyone’s problem. As part of that approach the Commissioner will work with a strategic board to ensure dedicated organisations from across the region can come together to share their expertise and resources.