The South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit has today, (Tuesday, 15 December 2020) published their first Annual Report, detailing the work that they have achieved since being set up in August 2019.

The report sets out the journey that the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit have been on in their first year.  Funding from the Home Office provided South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings with the opportunity to set up a dedicated team, focused entirely on adapting a public health approach to preventing and reducing violence across the county.

In an easy to read, digital format, the report sets out how the Violence Reduction Unit consulted with members of the community to canvass their perception of violence in their neighbourhoods.  This information was used to develop a needs assessment document (area profile) and a response strategy.  These documents highlight how the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit will work with and support partners to deliver 16 violence reduction priorities. These priorities were identified with the aim of achieving safer communities and preventing and reducing violent crime.

The Community Safety Partnerships in each of the local authorities have produced local violence reduction action plans.  These plans address the 16 local priorities.

The South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit are also providing coordination with South Yorkshire partners across a number of themes which include, night-time economy, weapon-enabled crime, homicide, organised crime, domestic abuse, exploitation and sexual violence.

Rachel Staniforth, Head of the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit said: “It has been a very challenging, yet rewarding year for us.  The priority was to set up a team and ensure that we had the infrastructure in place to consult with our communities and produce the statutory requirements for the Home Office.

It was from these documents that we were able to understand the priorities for South Yorkshire and provide some strategic leadership and coordination.

“In addition to the research and data collection, we have also been funding some amazing projects across the county who are working very hard within communities to prevent and reduce violence.

“Some organisations are taking primary and secondary prevention approaches, by ensuring that individuals are aware of dangers and consequences, there are diversionary activities in place for young people, with added education to ensure they are aware of issues so that they can make positive choices.

“We also have the interventions such as the Plan B Custody Navigators and the Hospital Navigators that support those already entrenched in violent crime and offer them pathways in to work, education, support with mental health issues, financial issues or drug and alcohol dependencies.

“The South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit team work hard to support our communities and to help them help themselves. I hope that the Annual Report reflects all of the good work going on in partnership and collaboration across South Yorkshire.”

In addition to the 16 priorities and the funded interventions, the Annual Report also highlights some of the grant-funded initiatives that have been successful in obtaining funding from the Violence Reduction Fund.  Many of the smaller community groups from Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield are featured with a short write-up about the outcomes from the projects.

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner said: “Over the past decade we have seen an increase in violence in many parts of the country including here in South Yorkshire.

“There has been violence in the home with domestic abuse and violence on the streets with gun and knife crime. This has blighted the lives of individuals, families and communities.

“I have been particularly concerned with the impact this has on children and young people.  I was concerned to bring these levels of violence down through a twin track approach.

“On the one hand, the police have been cracking down on those who resort to violence, degrading and disrupting organised criminal gangs, often associated with drugs.  On the other hand, through the Violence Reduction Unit we have been finding ways of preventing people from being exposed to violence, or drawn into it, and ways of helping them to escape a life of violence if they seriously want to make a change.

“We are building up considerable knowledge about what works and we are committed to seeing this work continue over the long term. This is a big partnership including local authorities, youth offending teams, probation, the NHS, education establishments, the voluntary and faith sector and the police. We need all these organisations to work together if we are to make a big and sustainable difference.

“The report shows how we have begun to do all of this.”

The Annual Report is available here – South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit First Annual Report

If you would like more information on the area profile, you can read that here – Area Profile