Greater Manchester Violence Reduction Unit

Young people who are involved in violence will be given a new opportunity to choose a positive alternative under a US-inspired programme rolling out in Manchester and Trafford.

Despite significant reductions in hospital admissions due to assault with a sharp object and homicides involving a knife in Greater Manchester in the past 12 months, we know that for a small but concerning number of young people, violence is a prominent part of their lives, some carry knives and some are in the criminal justice system for violent offences. For these young people, we want to do even more to challenge their behaviour and find positive alternatives to violence. We recognise that these young people have often been victims of crime themselves and may have experienced adverse childhood experiences and trauma making them more vulnerable to exploitation.

The new programme, led by Greater Manchester Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) and co-funded by the Home Office and the Youth Endowment Fund (YEF), uses an approach known as ‘Focused Deterrence’. The approach was pioneered in Boston (USA) in the mid-1990s to address the escalation in serious violence and was also used effectively in Glasgow in 2008 to tackle issues with violence.

Focused Deterrence builds on the existing partnership work in tackling serious violence, and brings together the police, local councils, community organisations, health services, education and probation services. It works by identifying individuals (aged 14-years and over) in a local area who are involved in serious violence. Then by drawing on the community support and expertise of partners, individuals are offered tailored support that includes understanding the root causes of their behaviour. This could include mentoring, access to education, training and employment opportunities, mental health services, housing advice or other services that address underlying issues in their lives, relationships, or neighbourhoods. Individuals will be informed about the consequences of continuing to engage in serious violence and that they would be subject to stringent law enforcement procedures should they persist in offending.

Research, mainly from the US, has shown that – on average – Focused Deterrence strategies reduce crime by 33%.

The new initiative is part of a wider £7 million investment by the Home Office (£3 million) and the Youth Endowment Fund (£4 million) into Focused Deterrence strategies, with similar programmes being rolled out in four other English cities: Coventry, Nottingham, Leicester, and Wolverhampton.

Power2, a children and young people’s charity based in Greater Manchester, will deliver the programme in Manchester and Trafford. Delivery will start in July 2023 and continue until July 2025.

The impact of the programme will be monitored. Lessons learned from Greater Manchester VRU’s work will provide new insight into how Focused Deterrence programmes can be adapted and adopted to reduce violent crime in the UK.

Kate Green, Deputy Mayor for policing, crime, criminal justice and fire, said: “We are committed to doing all we can to stop violence and crime on our streets across Greater Manchester, and working with our partners to provide young people with positive alternatives.

“Recently we have seen incidents of violence reduce, but we know there is more work to do. The Focused Deterrence approach has proven to be effective in other parts of the UK and across the globe, and we welcome the roll out in Manchester and Trafford.

“The programme will be carefully monitored and assessed, and learnings will be used to further effective work in Greater Manchester and across the country.”

Chief Inspector Simon Nasim of Greater Manchester Police, City of Manchester District,

said: “Greater Manchester Police (GMP) is committed to working with partners to help keep people safe, prevent crime and drive down violence. Tackling youth violence is a priority and GMP welcome the role out of this initiative in Manchester and Trafford as a means of diverting young people away from a life of violence.

“Whilst enforcement remains an important tactic, it cannot solve the problem in isolation and we will continue working with our partners, and as part of the wider Violence Reduction Unit, to improve engagement with communities and supporting young people to make better choices.”

Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “The allocation of this funding is to be welcomed as partners across Greater Manchester continue their work at ending youth violence.

“By making earlier interventions we hope to reduce the number of young people implicated in crime, as well as preventing the long-term community damage that it can cause to our communities.”

Councillor Rose Thompson, Trafford Council’s Executive Member for Communities and Safety, said: “Trafford Council is committed to working with partners to support initiatives to reduce violence on our streets. The Focused Deterrence strategy appears to be an effective way to tackle this type of crime and we look forward to it being introduced in Trafford.”   

Julie Randles, CEO of Power2, said: “We’re delighted to be bringing our proven early-intervention approach to the Focused Deterrence programme and look forward to working with all partners to increase the number of young people choosing a positive alternative to violence”.

Jon Yates, Executive Director at the Youth Endowment Fund, said: “Focused Deterrence has worked around the world – reducing crime by over 30%. It’s time to know whether it can work in England. Violence is not inevitable – we can bring it down. The important thing is not about being tough on crime or being soft on crime. The important thing is being smart on crime – we need to do what works.”

Article posted on: 17/07/2023 03:07pm

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