New £35m investment to support young people at risk of involvement in serious violence

The Home Office announces a further £35.5 million to help Violence Reduction Units across the country to prevent young people from falling into violent crime.

The UK Government has announced over £35 million worth of additional funding for Violent Reduction Units (VRUs) to help deal with violence and protect young people from risk of criminal exploitation.

VRUs are strategic bodies comprised of specialists from health, police, local government, probation and community organisations to help tackle violent crime and its underlying causes.

These units also help fund local projects that undertake preventative work with children and young people to support them to avoid falling into potential harmful situations, as well as prevention work in schools, communities, prisons, hospitals, Pupil Referral Units and police custody suites.

The £35.5 million funding comes following both increasing levels of youth violence and a report from the Children’s Commissioner highlighting that around 120,000 children and young people are at risk from criminal exploitation after falling through cracks in public services.

The Government says that initiatives funded by VRUs have helped to support more than 100,000 young people, over 51,000 of whom were identified as being at high-risk of being involved in criminal and violent activity.

National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Violence & Vulnerability, Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire, welcomed the funding and praised the work VRUs continued to achieve within their short-life span.

“Less than 2 years ago, Violence Reduction Units (VRUs) were launched to tackle the root causes of serious violence as policing saw an increase in this type of criminality,” said Sebire.

“In that time, these specialist units, which work in partnership with other agencies, have already made a significant change in how we approach serious violence and vulnerability, allowing targeted and evidenced-based interventions.

“We welcome the commitment from government in tackling serious violence and this funding will allow the units to continue to support young people and keep communities safe.”

Speaking on the findings of her report into criminal exploitation of young people, Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield said a more coordinated public health approach was needed to tackle the issue.

“If intervention comes when children are already entangled in these dangerous enterprises, it is difficult to reach them,” said Longfield.

“To keep children safe, the response to youth violence must be a national priority across policing, public health and children’s services. We need equally strong national leadership in each of these three fields, backed up by local partnership working. This is the only way to fully implement a genuine public health approach across the country.

“Tragically, until there is this joined up public health response to gangs that identifies and helps all those children at risk as early as possible, teenagers will keep dying on our streets,” she concluded.

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