Under the direct governance and oversight of the Deputy Mayor, Greater Manchester Combined Authority plays host to the VRU.
The VRU is made up of six delivery groups, which provide leadership and partnership coordination in relation to the priorities contained within the Greater Manchester Serious Violence Action Plan. Each delivery group has terms of reference, a set of agreed objectives and a designated budget.
When communities are affected by violence often the key to sustainable solutions can often be found by speaking to local residents about the underlying causes of crime, working with rather than deciding for them. Six areas are receiving investment across Greater Manchester and will deliver community led pilots. Working in a place based way these initiatives are about learning what are the priorities in each community and co-designing services with local people that will benefit their community.
The six areas are:
Manchester covering Moss Side, Rusholme and Hulme
Bolton covering New Bury
Salford covering Ordsall and Langworthy
Oldham covering Glodwick
Young people involved, or at risk of, criminal behaviour are often vulnerable and present risk to the communities they live in. Involvement in crime often means that they have complex needs that haven’t been identified at an earlier age. This includes family breakups, trauma, educational barriers, exploitation, poverty, substance misuse and neglect. Effective youth justice sees children as children, treats them fairly and helps to build on their strengths so they can make constructive contributions to society. This prevents offending and creates safer communities with fewer victims. Greater Manchester Youth Justice support this ‘child first’ approach.
Young adults are less than 10% of the general population but are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system (CJS), making up more than one third of those commencing a Court Order, one third of the probation service’s caseload and almost one third of those sentenced to prison each year. This alone demonstrates the importance of recognising the distinct needs and circumstances of young adults in developing effective approaches to reduce re- offending and preventing victims of crime.
Young adults are the most likely age group to desist and grow out of crime, although the wrong intervention at this time can slow desistance and extend the period that a young adult is involved in the CJS. Getting it right at this critical time is crucial to assisting young adults to make a successful transition to a crime free adulthood.
The VRU has a key link with health colleagues across Greater Manchester – ranging from hospital staff and trauma specialists, mental health, primary care, substance misuse, ambulance service and safeguarding.
Many young victims of crime don’t receive appropriate support, either because they don’t tell anyone about the incident, or they feel the existing services don’t cater for their needs.
The VRU aims to ensure younger victims of violent crime have access to the support they may need, in a way that is appropriate to their circumstances.
The VRU works with colleagues and victims from Greater Manchester and other areas to develop an understanding of the needs of young victims, learn from areas where services have been improved, and involve the community in developing improved services for young people in Greater Manchester.
Through partnership with schools, colleges, universities, parents and local authorities the VRU aims to keep young people safe by supporting learning activities in and around their school.
Education is a powerful tool in preventing involvement in crime. Using evidence-based research we can pick up on the patterns and vulnerabilities that might lead a young person to disengage from education and the safe space that schools provide, leaving them vulnerable to anti-social behaviours and be drawn into criminal activity. By taking pro-social approaches through education young people will develop essential life skills, they will feel valued, increase their self-esteem and self-worth and have aspirational goals for a good adult life as they work towards the career of their choice.
Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) provide analytical, research and evaluation support to the VRU. This ensures that decision-making utilises a robust evidence base. We undertake analytical surveillance work to understand the extent and nature of the violence problem. We research and evidence the causes of violence, identifying the risk and protective factors. We support the VRU and partners to develop interventions to address violence and the causes of violence. We work with partners to ensure that appropriate evaluations are undertaken, to understand what works and for whom. We disseminate findings through policy and academic literatures to enhance the evidence base.
The communication and engagement team is responsible for sharing news and updates on the VRUs work and engaging the local community and partners with their initiatives. The team are responsible for running campaigns on a number of topics from youth violence to domestic abuse, working with press media and producing content in a variety of formats.