The South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit welcomed Matthew Rycroft CBE, Home Office Permanent Secretary to their offices on Friday, 11 September.

Mr Rycroft was met by Rachel Staniforth, Head of the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction at the Unit’s offices on Shepcote Lane Sheffield.  He received an introduction to the unit and the on-going work being carried out with partners to prevent and reduce violence in South Yorkshire.

On his visit, Mr Rycroft was introduced to the A&E Hospital Navigators based at the Sheffield Hallamshire Hospital.  The A&E Navigators are matched funded by the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit.  Kirsten Clinton, Nurse Consultant at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals explained the work of the navigators, including how they engage with young people brought in to the Trauma Unit with wounds consistent with knife crime and violence.

Staff from the Violence Reduction Unit explained some further initiatives that the unit are funding including the Mentors in Violence Prevention Programme, Trauma Informed Training and the recent Domestic Abuse Prevention Funding round.

Rachel Staniforth, Head of the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit said: “It was a pleasure to welcome the Permanent Secretary to our offices.  I hope that he was able to gain an understanding of the long-term approach that we have to preventing and reducing violence here in South Yorkshire.

“Mr Rycroft was particularly interested in diversion away from violent crime, and how we are working together across South Yorkshire to prevent it.  We discussed the Mentors in Violence Prevention programme in schools and talked about our intentions to make South Yorkshire trauma informed over the next three years.”

The visit concluded with a trip down to the Shepcote Lane Custody Suite where Matthew Rycroft was greeted by Stuart Otten, City Hearts About Face Project Manager.  Stuart explained the work of the Plan B custody navigators.  He explained how they support individuals brought in to custody on suspicion of violent offences to find ways out of violence and in to further education and employment.

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner said: “This was a most significant visit by the Permanent Secretary so soon after his appointment to the top job in the Home Office.

“I think he will have been impressed by our determination in South Yorkshire to tackle serious violence not only through vigorous policing and enforcement but also by preventing it through the activity of the Violence Reduction Unit.

“What he was able to see was not something theoretical but examples of people being steered away from a life of violence and crime.

“The custody navigator scheme is not an alternative to the criminal justice system, but the navigator that meets people in custody offers them a way out of a violent life if they choose to take it, as some do.

“The Violence Reduction Unit is a long term commitment by all our partners and we thank them for the part they are playing in this venture.”

Matthew Rycroft said: “The Home Office is determined to ensure vulnerable children and young people are protected from criminal exploitation and victimisation, and Violence Reduction Units have a crucial role to play in that work.

“I was encouraged to see the progress South Yorkshire’s VRU is making, including the impressive activity with partners in diverting young people away from a life of violent crime.

“I look forward to hearing how these interventions develop.”