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Professionals and community representatives from across Greater Manchester have vowed to tackle knife-crime and serious violence at a roundtable event hosted by the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham.

Chaired by Nazir Afzal, former Chief Crown Prosecutor, the event held today (Friday 1 April) is part of an ongoing commitment to work in partnership with agencies and communities in the city-region to prevent serious violence.

It follows a number of serious incidents in Greater Manchester in recent months, including four fatal stabbings.

The VRU is investing in families and communities through community-led pilots. To date, £600,000 has been awarded to alliances made up of VCSE organisations in six boroughs of Greater Manchester to identify local priorities, problem solve and direct investment and interventions.

Earlier today, it was announced that the Greater Manchester VRU has been allocated funding from the Home Office for the next three years to continue its work – Funding boost for Greater Manchester’s Violence Reduction Unit – three more years working to tackle serious violence – Greater Manchester Combined Authority (greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk)

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Sadly, Greater Manchester has experienced some very serious and tragic events in recent months and following a series of fatal stabbings earlier this year, I vowed to bring together representatives from our diverse communities and professionals from key agencies, to address the issue of youth violence and discuss what more can be done to tackle it.

“Tackling this issue takes strong proactive policing. I was pleased to see the new Chief Constable’s Operation Avro on the ground in Oldham yesterday, with over 50 arrests. We will continue to develop this approach and will be recruiting more police this year. But policing alone will not solve this problem. I am delighted that our ground-breaking Violence Reduction Unit has received backing for another three years from government.

“Our approach must and will continue to include police enforcement activity but it’s vital that we work with families, communities and young people themselves to address the reasons why people carry weapons in the first place.”

Since its launch in 2019, the VRU has worked in over 100 education settings to deliver early intervention programmes to hundreds of young people. The unit is currently working with 25 schools, colleges, and community safety partners to deliver the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) programme, which emphasises changing social norms as the key to prevention.

In the same period, over 300 young people have been referred to the Greater Manchester Navigator programme. The programme works with young people aged 10-25 to help them cope and recover from their experience of violence and assist with access to local support networks, to prevent the potential for further violence. Initially rolled out in four hospitals across Greater Manchester, scope has now been expanded to include referrals from the police, ambulance service, and the community.

Deputy Mayor for policing, crime criminal justice and fire, Bev Hughes, said: “Serious violence not only affects victims and their families but also whole communities, and our most disadvantaged areas are disproportionately affected. We must challenge the violence but in addition tackle the root causes, the inequalities, lack of opportunities that are also factors and which hold us back in our mission to become one of the best places in the world to live.

“Significant change won’t happen overnight, and we need everyone’s help to end serious violence – so if you see anything that doesn’t feel right involving a young person please speak out.”

The roundtable also saw the launch of the second video as part of the latest phase of the ‘I am greater’ campaign – the VRU’s flagship violence reduction campaign co-created with young people in Greater Manchester.

Launched earlier this week, this phase of the campaign highlights how violence can start with words and low-level actions such as arguments, rumours or harmful language, and the impact these actions can have.

Fronted by young people from Greater Manchester, the campaign aims to equip young people with the tools, knowledge, and skills to recognise when a friend’s behaviour isn’t right, and the positive actions they can take to prevent violence escalating.

The videos can be viewed here: Home – I Am Greater

Nazir Afzal, former Chief Crown Prosecutor, said: “Knife crime is an epidemic in parts of our cities, which can only be addressed by working with the young people who carry knives and understanding their reasons for doing so.

“We need to work together to find ways of preventing serious violence, including knife crime, so we can avoid more families and communities going through this.”

The group will reconvene in September to discuss progress on the issues raised around the table today.

If you know or suspect someone is carrying a knife, please report it immediately by contacting GMP via gmp.police.uk or 101. In an emergency, always dial 999.

Find out more about the VRU here: Greater Manchester VRU website.


Article posted on: 01/04/2022 05:04pm

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