Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry (left) with Head of the VRU Natalie Baker-Swift
A strategy that has successfully cut violent crime in America is set to be tested in Nottinghamshire.
Today, Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) announced it will receive £928,500 from the Youth Endowment Fund (YEF) and the Home Office to invest in a strategy called focused deterrence.
This crime prevention plan will involve lots of different agencies and community groups – including the police, youth justice, probation, housing providers, faith leaders and schools – taking a partnership approach to ending violence.
It involves working with people already involved in violence to communicate the consequences of continuing to commit crimes. But the approach isn’t about handing out harsh punishment or crackdowns.
People involved in crime and violence are offered a range of support (from mental health to employment programmes), to help them leave crime behind for good.
Natalie Baker-Swift, Head of the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire VRU, said: “This funding will enable us to work with partners, including the Police, Youth Justice Services and Probation to ensure that some of the most high-risk, but also vulnerable children and young people in our city, are supported out of violence and exploitation.
“Over the coming months, the team and I will be listening to communities and working together on solutions that will make a lasting difference to young people’s lives.”
The funding comes as a boost to the 'preventing' crime priority in the Nottinghamshire Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner's Make Notts Safe Plan.
Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry, who oversees the work of the VRU, said: “I am delighted that Nottingham and Nottinghamshire have been chosen to receive this funding to pilot the focussed deterrent approach to crime prevention.
“This is a recognition of the work our VRU has already been doing to work closely with partners to create a holistic package of prevention measures for young people on the fringes of crime. When it comes to crime, it is true that prevention is better than the cure. By giving these young people access to support and opening doors for them, in many cases it can help them choose a different, more positive future for themselves.”
The Youth Endowment Fund is a charity with a £200 million endowment and a mission to prevent children and young people from becoming involved in violence.
According to the YEF’s previous analysis of international evidence, focused deterrence could have a high impact on reducing crime and violence. However, most of the available research was conducted in the United States (with one study evaluating the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence in Glasgow). This means more evidence is needed to see how it might work in England.
Nottingham City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children, Young People and Education, Cllr Cheryl Barnard, said: “We’re delighted to have successfully bid for this funding. It provides an opportunity for the Youth Justice Service to work in partnership with the VRU, Police, Probation and communities to implement a model which will support at risk children and young adults living in the city aged 14- 25, who are impacted by serious violence and exploitation, to access pathways of support.
“It will allow us to recruit more Targeted Youth Support Workers who already carrying out work to protect young people from harm, along with a psychiatric nurse and a business support worker, for the next three years.
"This will build on the existing Exploitation and Violence Reduction Hub which aims to prevent young people entering the criminal justice system, along with Home Office funded work that will run on a similar timeframe to support girls and young women at risk of violence.”
More about focused deterrence: what is it and where it’s worked
Focused deterrence is an approach to violence reduction that was developed in Boston (USA) in the mid-1990s. It recognises that most serious violence is associated with a small group of people who are themselves very likely to be victims of violence, trauma and extremely challenging circumstances. Their involvement in violence is often driven by exploitation, victimisation and self-protection.
Focused deterrence attempts to identify the people most likely to be involved in violence and supports them to stop. The age of the people involved depends on the context and the crime problem identified but projects have worked with children as young as 14 or 15.
It often involves:
- Support. Help for people involved in violence to access positive support and social services.
- Community engagement. Engaging the wider community to communicate that they want violence to stop and those involved to be safe, provide support, and encourage reintegration in the community. Projects will often arrange engagement between the people who are the focus of the intervention and victims’ family members, reformed former group members, and faith leaders.
- Deterrence. Clear communication of the consequences of violence and swift and certain enforcement if violence occurs.
Amanda Solloway MP, Minister for Safeguarding, said: “Serious violence has a devastating impact on individuals and communities. This year, the Government has invested £130m to address serious violence and homicide, delivering our twin-track approach which combines tough enforcement with early intervention to divert young people away from crime.
“As part of this, we are committed to testing and evaluating what really works to prevent violence. This is why we are providing £3m to the Youth Endowment Fund to test the Focused Deterrence approach in the UK context.”
Jon Yates, Executive Director at the Youth Endowment Fund, said: “From Chicago to Glasgow, focused deterrence has saved lives. When we get the police and the community to work together, we can identify and support young people and pull them away from crime and violence. This has worked across the world. We now need to get it working in England. Together, we can make sure that every child’s life is free from violence.”
To find out more about the investment, please visit: www.youthendowmentfund.org.uk/grants/agency-collaboration-fund-another-chance/
To find out more about focused deterrence and its impact on violence reduction, visit the YEF Toolkit – a free online resource that summarises the best available research on what works – and what doesn’t – to reduce youth violence.
Posted on Thursday 18th August 2022