Caroline Henry and Natalie Baker-Swift
Nottinghamshire has secured funding worth £3.5million over the next three years to invest in work aimed at diverting young people away from serious violence.
Nottingham and Nottinghamshire’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) is to receive a core grant of £1.4m for 2022-23 – 40 per cent higher than in previous years.
Future funding grants of £1.06m in 2023-24 and £1.04m in 2024-25 have also been confirmed by the Home Office.
It comes after new national figures showed violence with injury offences in Nottinghamshire had dropped 28 per cent over the past two years thanks to the dedication of police officers working alongside the VRU and wider partnership.
The VRU is a multiagency partnership, overseen by the PCC as chair of the VRU Strategic Board, bringing together specialists from the Police, NHS, County and City Council, Nottinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), education, Public Health England and the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS).
The team looks beyond statistics and follows a ‘prevention is better than cure’ strategy, intervening through holistic methods including education and mentorship before violence has a chance to take hold.
The extra investment and multi-year funding announced gives the VRU the certainty needed to deliver a more sustainable approach to reducing serious violence in the future.
It will also strengthen critical frontline programmes for children and young people to ensure they have the opportunities and support necessary to turn their back on violence.
Preventing crime is a key priority in Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry’s Police and Crime Plan.
The Commissioner has set aside £1.5m to direct young people out of the court system by addressing the underlying causes of early offending. This is alongside £270,000 over the next three years for youth diversion and £300,000 for protecting young people from Hidden Harm, as part of the Make Notts Safe Grant, launched last week.
Commissioner Henry said: “I am delighted the VRU has secured the funding it deserves to keep up its fantastic work tackling violence.
“The Home Office has clearly been impressed with our approach in Nottinghamshire and the results achieved so far to turn young people away from crime and violence.
“Last year alone, the VRU provided support and positive opportunities for thousands of young people. This substantial increase in our grant will allow us to plan confidently for the future and empower even more vulnerable young people to change course and achieve their ambitions.”
Natalie Baker-Swift, Head of the VRU, said the organisation would continue to focus on whole system approaches to reducing serious violence, supporting young people in the here and now as well as preventing future risks.
“The confirmation of three year funding will make a huge difference to the work of the VRU and our wider partners,” she said.
“In order to be truly effective in supporting positive outcomes, not just for individuals but for communities as a whole, we need a degree of sustainability. The announcement from the Home Office goes a long way to providing us with that.
“In Nottinghamshire we are bucking the regional trend with reductions in serious violence thanks to the work of the whole partnership. I am immensely proud of what we have achieved so far but I also know there is so much more that we can do to keep our children, young people and communities safe. I am excited for what the future holds.”
Thanks to early intervention and prevention as part of a public health approach, the VRU is achieving and maintaining significant reductions in serious violence, including knife crime. Latest national statistics show Nottinghamshire have one of the lowest rates of homicide in the country (39th in the country out of 43 police forces) and the lowest rate of homicide ever seen on record in Nottinghamshire. By comparison, the neighbouring counties, Derbyshire and Leicestershire, record three times as many homicides.
Chief Constable Craig Guildford, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “This increase in funding is fantastic news as the unit does extremely important work, engaging with vulnerable young people to help them understand the dangers of crime and supporting them on the road to a safer and more positive future.
“It follows the release of the latest national statistics released last week (26 January) which showed violence with injury had dropped 28 per cent over the last two years across Nottinghamshire which shows just how successful our officers are working alongside the unit to combat violent crime.
“The Home Office funding is a much-welcomed boost to the force’s ongoing work to prevent violent crime and reduce knife crime by the continued combination of engagement, education, and enforcement and most importantly to keep the people of Nottinghamshire safe.”
Case Study ‘M’
"I had really bad addiction issues with drugs and alcohol and when I met my mentor I was in unstable housing situation and potentially homeless. I had poor relationships with my family and bad connections with friends. My mental health was all over the place and I really felt lost.
“With support from my mentors I have done lots from restarting my education and also registering with GP and I've started to tackle my addiction habits. I've not reoffended and attend the gym now which has helped with my mental health lots; it occupies my mind and gets me physically fit. I have stable accommodation at the minute and slowly building up relationships and I see my mentors as real support that without I don't like to think what would have happened.”
Crime & Policing Minister, Kit Malthouse said:“The very worst part of my job is hearing from families who have lost loved ones to violence and finding out that something could have been done to prevent it.
“We must do more to reach those at risk of violence early on to break the cycle of crime. Only then will we truly level up the country and give everyone the security of a safe street and home.
"We're throwing everything we have at this. At the heart, our pioneering Violence Reduction Units galvanise all parts of the public sector to tackle violent crime, and this approach is really starting to work."
The VRU currently receives core funding of £880k per year. The new grant of £1.4m for 2022-23 represents a 40 per cent increase which will taper off in the subsequent two years on the expectation that areas work towards local sustainability.
With a more sustainable platform to commission services, the VRU will step up its focus on:
- Recognising and responding appropriately to children and adults who have experience trauma, which may be shown in offending behaviour.
- Ensuring risk is identified as part of the education system including exclusion, identification and support for those with special educational needs and young people vulnerable to exploitation
- Working with the voluntary and community sector to increase the quality of community-led youth provision
- As well as continuing to commission interventions to support children and young people already at risk.
Posted on Friday 1st April 2022