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Agenda item

Update on the work of the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit

Report of the Joint Heads of the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit.



The Committee received a report of the Joint Heads of the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit providing an update on the work of the Unit and its links to the Council and other organisations working to prevent and reduce violent crime across South Yorkshire.




Present for this item were Dr. Alan Billings (South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner), Lee Berry (Superintendent and Joint Head, South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit), Angela Greenwood (Senior Partnership Manager, South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit) and Rachel Staniforth (Joint Head, South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit).




Angela Greenwood explained the work of the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) which aimed to enhance partnership arrangements which were intended to lay the foundations of a sustainable, multi-agency approach to reducing violent crime, scale up local delivery of tried and tested multi-agency public health approaches and deliver a range of new interventions and initiatives with partners across South Yorkshire, focusing on violence prevention and violence reduction.




Lee Berry stated that in August 2019, the Home Office announced that they would be providing the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner with £1.6m funding to set up a Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) in South Yorkshire.   The funding allocation was based on NHS data on hospital admissions for sharp object assault.  The funding was to empower organisations to think differently and work together to reduce violence.  The VRU was looking at a public health approach to prevent and reduce violent crime.  Lee Berry said the approach focused on the needs of the public or groups rather than individuals and would work with communities, groups or partners and success of the VRU would be built upon co-ordinating and learning from existing initiatives and resources within communities to ensure there was a comprehensive approach to tackling violence across Sheffield and South Yorkshire.  He referred to the six key areas outlined within the report that the VRU would focus on.




Rachel Staniforth referred to the five common elements in the public health approach as being the prevention of violent crime, having a strong data and evidence base, looking at what causes violent crime and understanding the driving force behind it, looking at the population level across South Yorkshire and working together in partnership.  Rachel Staniforth said that an Area Profile document had been drafted and was under consideration.  It was hoped that the final document, expected to be published in May, 2020, becomes a useful tool for partners and community organisations.  Ms. Staniforth then circulated an appendix to the report which gave a list of Sheffield funded projects for the VRU fund and also a list of district wide funded projects from the fund.  She said that the VRA reports monthly to the Violence Reduction Executive Board.




Members of the Committee made various comments and asked a number of questions, to which responses were given as follows:-




·                     The £1.6m funding soon diminishes.  Part of the ongoing work was to understand what community groups are out there and how to develop a reduction delivery plan, with key performance indicators going forward.  The priority will be a delivery plan for all partners.




·                     The collection of data was free and we thank Council Officers for their help in getting the data. The VRU used our own data analyst to interpret the data.




·         The Home Office funding, which was secured in August, 2019, had to be allocated to local community-based and partner organisations to fund the prevention and reduction of violence across the six key areas by March 2020, therefore there was a limited period of time for funds to be allocated.  Bids for funding for had to be submitted to the VRU by the 31st October, 2019 and all successful bidders had been notified.




·         One of the mandatory products specified by the Home Office was to deliver a South Yorkshire Violence Response Strategy, and it was felt that members of the community had an input into this strategy.  The VRU had contacted and commissioned Voluntary Action Sheffield to lead and coordinate this throughout South Yorkshire.  Nine Workshops had been held across South Yorkshire during December, 2019. engaging up to 10 members of the community at each, both adults and young people, to get their insight into what it is like to live in their area, as well as seeking their input into the South Yorkshire Response Strategy.




·                     The Unit was trying to overlap data provided by the police and at A&E departments at local hospitals.  Some Navigators have been engaged in A&E Departments and police custody suites to engage and listen to those detained in custody and seek to understand how they have become involved in criminality. The Navigators will provide help and support aimed to steer them away from criminality and support them on a journey away from the one they are on now.




·                     It was acknowledged that there was a need to put youth workers back into areas of need, to engage with young people and steer them away from crime.  Evidence has shown that some of the information given at school has the effect of frightening children and has the opposite effect on them.  Following a further bid for Home Office funding after the 31st March this year, it was felt that youth work was one area that needed support.




·                     Domestic violence within the home can have a devastating impact on children and young people that can last into adulthood.  SmartWater has been used at the homes of domestic abuse victims in an effort to deter perpetrators from returning to the home and to provide victims with reassurance that their security has been enhanced.  By using SmartWater technology, the Police are not only sending out a warning to perpetrators that they will know if they have tried to visit the home of their victim but if they do, the Police will be able to prove it.




·                     The Violence Reduction Unit was working closely with the Community Safety Partnership with the aim of linking in to all community groups.




·                     The £1.6m funding was for one year.  It was hoped to receive further funding for future years to build on the work already done by the Unit.  The "Glasgow model" has been widely praised as a way of tackling violent crime. The work of the Violence Reduction Unit will not deliver results overnight as the causes of violent crime are many years in the making and the solutions will take time.  It was hoped that the Unit will be sustainable for many years.




·                     The set-up costs have already been spent from this year’s allocation, so hopefully with further funding being made available, it will be possible to fund more projects. 




RESOLVED: That this Committee:-




(a)       thanks Dr. Alan Billings, Lee Berry, Angela Greenwood and Rachel Staniforth for their valuable contribution to the meeting; and




(b)       notes the contents of the report now submitted, together with the comments now made and the responses to the questions raised.


Supporting documents: