The Home Office has announced that a further £1.6million will be made available to the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, to continue the work of the recently established South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit.

The South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit (SYVRU) was first launched in September 2019 with government funding made available through the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).

The Unit is based at Shepcote Lane Police Station and works with key partner agencies across South Yorkshire to prevent and reduce violence, including knife crime.

The South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit takes a ‘public health’ approach to violence by tackling the causes of violence and not simply dealing with it after crimes have been committed.

A Violence Reduction Executive Board oversees the work undertaken and is chaired by PCC Dr Alan Billings and features South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable Stephen Watson and representatives from all four South Yorkshire local authorities, Health and Education services, probation and youth offending teams and the faith and voluntary sector, amongst others.

The Home Office has said that it expects the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit to lead and co-ordinate the local response to serious violence.

Dr Billings said: “I very much welcome this additional funding of £1.6million for the next financial year.

“It enables the recently established violence reduction unit to continue its work for this financial year.

“Since we launched the Violence Reduction Fund in December we have been able to fund more than twenty projects aimed at drawing young people away from violence or helping others to break out of the cycle of crime and violence they may have fallen into.

“We shall be able to continue some of these projects and add others between now and the end of March 2021.

“I am quite clear that in South Yorkshire we must do two things. We must come down hard on those who resort to violence and the gangs where violence often breeds. But we must also understand the reasons why people are drawn to violence in the first place and find ways of steering them away from it.”

Rachel Staniforth, Joint Head of the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit said: “It is excellent news that we have received further funding and are able to progress with the work that is already underway in South Yorkshire.

“During the first year, we have produced an area profile and response strategy as a requirement of the Home Office funding.  The area profile looks at the causes of the causes of violence, across Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield.  The response strategy details how we are going to tackle these issues and what the priorities of the partnership are.

“The funding for the 2020/21 financial year will allow us to embed these priorities and work with our partners on delivering interventions to prevent and reduce violence.”