The Police and Crime Commissioner and partners have welcomed the news that the West Midlands Violence Reduction Unit is set to receive funding next year.
The Home Secretary announced yesterday (Sun 29th) that, subject to application, £3.37 million will be handed to the VRU in the financial year 2020/21.
The money must be spent preventing violence in the West Midlands Police force area.
Amid rising levels of violence across the country the Police and Crime Commissioner has been urging the government to continue to invest in the Unit beyond April 2020.
The VRU was launched in October 2019 and brings together different organisations including police, local government, health, community leaders and other key partners to prevent serious violence by tackling its root causes.
Commenting on the news, the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, said:
“Securing funding for another year is testament to the strong work already underway by the Violence Reduction Unit.
“To prevent violence we have been investing in a variety of initiatives, including activities for young people, mentoring schemes and youth workers in A&E departments to help break the cycle of violence. This funding will help continue the unit’s work.
“Whilst this funding is welcomed by all in the West Midlands, the government needs to know that a real long term funding solution is still very much needed and government also needs to give PCCs and Violence Reduction Units the flexibility to spend this money effectively on prevention and policing responses.
“I am also still concerned that since 2010 West Midlands Police has lost 2,131 officers and is only expecting to receive funding for around 1,200 officers out of the government’s uplift programme.”
The VRU sets out to tackle violence using a Public Health approach, which is often used by doctors to contain or prevent the spread of disease and focuses on what can be done to reduce the spread of ill health and protect the public.
Dr Sue Ibbotson, Public Health England (PHE) West Midlands Centre Director, said:
“Violence is preventable, not inevitable. By taking a public health approach, agencies across the region can work together to understand and address the causes of violence, and reduce it.
“This must however be a sustained effort, so we are very grateful to the Home Office for this additional funding, which will help us to continue the excellent work being done by the West Midlands Violence Reduction Unit.”
The VRU will also be responsible for assessing the scale of the violence and analysing which groups are most affected.Evidence will be shared between organisations to help prevent violence and support local partnerships and communities to put this into practice. The aim is to prevent violence from happening rather than just having to tackle it when it does.
Assistant Chief Constable Vanessa Jardine at West Midlands Police said: “I’m delighted that the funding has been extended to further progress the vitally important work that the violence reduction unit has already started.
“It’s a great way to work together with like-minded people, other agencies and the wider community to tackle violent crime and together create safer and stronger communities.”
The Violence Reduction Unit will increasingly work closely with local councils across the West Midlands.
Clive Heaphy is the Acting Chief Executive at Birmingham City Council and represents all local authorities on the VRU, he said: “Extra funding to support a critical area of work like this is always to be welcomed – but it will only be effective if there is strong partnership working between all of the agencies that have an interest in this issue. Councils have shown that they are fully committed to playing their part in addressing the challenges that our communities face from violent crime and we look forward to building on the early progress that has been made to date.”
Julie Nugent, Director of Productivity and Skills at the West Midlands Combined Authority, said: “This additional funding for the Violence Reduction Unit reflects the commitment we have as a region to work together on tackling the root causes of crime through positive intervention, which, in turn, can give all our young people the opportunity to thrive.”