A £2 million project that will tackle violent crime in Coventry and Wolverhampton has launched.
The new scheme, known as the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV), is being overseen by the Violence Reduction Partnership, a body responsible for preventing violence in the West Midlands.
The money will be used to target mostly young people who are suspected of or are already impacted by gangs or county lines drug dealing. There will also be millions of pounds worth of extra police time invested in both areas.
The project seeks to identify the people most likely to be involved in violence, before clearly communicating the consequences of it for them and others and providing support for developing positive routes away from it.
In 2019 Northamptonshire Police implemented the CIRV programme, which is still operational, and has seen a 40% reduction in offending.
The programme makes sure the young people identified have 24/7 access to a team of professionals who help them understand why they are committing crimes and support them to stop. Research shows inequalities such as poverty, violence in the household and parents who are addicted to drugs or alcohol are more likely to draw the young person into a violent lifestyle. CIRV provides them with intensive support including help with housing issues, access to education, ill health, debt or addiction.
CIRV will operate from May 2023 to August 2025 after receiving a £2 million investment from the Home Office and the Youth Endowment Fund (YEF).
The new initiative is part of a wider £7 million investment by the Home Office [£3 million] and the Youth Endowment Fund [£4 million] into Focused Deterrence strategies, with similar programmes being rolled out in three other English cities: Nottingham, Leicester and Manchester.
Simon Foster, the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “This is an important new initiative, that builds on the strength, solidarity and support of our West Midlands Violence Reduction Partnership.
“The programme has been designed to divert young people out of county lines, gangs and violence; to enable our young people to access positive opportunities for the benefit of themselves, their families and society as a whole; and to prevent and tackle violence, protect people and save lives.”
Assistant Chief Constable Claire Bell from West Midlands Police (WMP) said: “CIRV aims to engage and support communities most affected by violence, but also to ensure we are disrupting any violence and criminal activity, to help keep our towns and cities safe”.
Any individual not willing to engage or create positive changes in their behaviour may be prosecuted through the criminal justice system.
The Home Office and Youth Endowment Fund have commissioned a 3 – 5 year evaluation of the programme which will provide evidence for the long-term outcomes of this type of programme.
Policing Minister Chris Philp said: “Focused deterrence is proven to reduce crime. This £7 million programme will offer young people a route out, combining community support and mentoring to encourage them to seek help, as well as swift enforcement action to divert them away from violence”.
Jon Yates, Executive Director at the Youth Endowment Fund, said: “Focused Deterrence has worked around the world – reducing crime by over 30%. It’s time to know whether it can work in England. Violence is not inevitable – we can bring it down. The important thing is not about being tough on crime or being soft on crime. The important thing is being smart on crime – we need to do what works.”