Sheffield & South Yorkshire

South Yorkshire VRU: Home Office pledges £1.6m

Knife crime victims in Sheffield (2017-8)
Image caption Knife crime victims in Sheffield (2017-8). Top (L-R): Gavin Singleton, Kavan Brissett, Jarvin Blake and Glenn Boardman. Bottom (L-R): Fahim Hersi, Samuel Baker and Ryan Jowle

South Yorkshire Police will get an extra £1.6m to tackle violent crime.

The Home Office funding is to pay for a violence reduction unit (VRU), similar to Glasgow's which launched after a rise in crime there.

The South Yorkshire VRU will enlist experts to address the causes of knife crime, the region's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) said.

Knife crime in South Yorkshire almost doubled in the last nine years.

South Yorkshire's PCC, Dr Alan Billings, said Sheffield had eight fatal stabbings in in 2018 and nearly 1,000 offences involving a knife that same year.

He said Glasgow's 10-year strategy had dramatically cut murders and stabbings.

Image caption Violent crime in Glasgow prompted it to be branded the "murder capital of Europe" in 2005 by the World Health Organisation

The Scottish city was branded "murder capital of Europe" by the World Health Organisation in 2005 because of rising violent crime, but knife crime fell dramatically after a VRU was introduced in the city.

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In the Glasgow model, police, schools and hospitals and charities work together using an "evidence-based approach" to treat violent crime as a disease.

Violence 'disease'

Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, said the South Yorkshire VRU will tackle serious violence: "We are losing too many young lives to the horrors of serious violence and it's crucial that all parts of our society work together to tackle it head-on," he said.

Dr Billings said: "I support the 'public health' approach to violent crime, treating violence as a disease whose spread can be stopped if we tackle the causes and not just the disease itself."

Image caption Dr Billings met a former gang-member in Glasgow who has been steered away from crime by the Scottish VRU

The extra cash comes from £35m set aside from the £100m government's Violent Crime Fund, announced in the March Statement.

It was provisionally allocated to 18 areas of England and Wales.

Dr Billings has met with ex-prisoners helped by Glasgow's VRU.

Callum Hutchison, stabbed on his doorstep nine times after being in territorial gangs, now works in a cafe.

He said: "The most rewarding thing is my kids no longer have to come to visit me in prison. My kids don't have to go to my funeral. They get their dad back."

Sheffield knife crime victims

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