As part of the communications team in the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC), I see first hand, the challenges our police force faces on a daily basis.
How South Yorkshire Police responds to those challenges is shaped by the Commissioner’s annual Police and Crime Plan, in which the PCC sets out, on behalf of the public, the priorities for South Yorkshire Police for the year ahead.
As well as setting the priorities for South Yorkshire’s force, the PCC is responsible for the provision of support services for victims in South Yorkshire and funds a grants scheme, aimed at empowering non-profit organisations to contribute towards achieving the PCC’s goal for South Yorkshire to be a safe place to live, learn, work, and travel.
Before my role in the OPCC, I took a narrow view that people were either good or bad; the bad ones were those likely to commit violent crimes.
I didn’t consider what made people ‘bad’.
Unstable upbringings, exposure to violence, and a fear of personal attack could all lead people to make poor choices.
I quickly discovered the work that was going on to combat these behaviours before they became established. As well as rehabilitating those who had offended, there was work going on to divert people away from violent behaviour before it happened.
Enter, the Violence Reduction Unit.
I joined the OPCC around the same time as my comms counterpart in the VRU, Josh.
If you’re reading this, you’ll hopefully be aware of the brilliant work they do in co-ordinating with local partners – including the police, probation, health, voluntary and faith sectors, and local authorities – to reduce serious violence by taking a Public Health Approach to tackling crime.
South Yorkshire’s VRU (one of 20 in the country), works to prevent and reduce violence across the county. This includes funding projects that support young people involved, or at risk of involvement, in violence, support to young people who are out of schooling, provision of mentoring, and work with children who have experienced violence in their homes.
We’re all aware of the huge impact our experiences as children have on the type of grown up we become, and I’m fortunate to see and support the fantastic work that happens week in, week out, to support those who need it most across South Yorkshire.