Violence Reduction Unit (VRU)
The Kent and Medway Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) is a partnership between the police, local councils, health service providers and other key agencies to deliver a reduction in violence the county.
It was created in 2019 after the PCC was awarded £1,160,000 from the Home Office. The Government then announced Kent would receive a further £1,160,000 to fund the VRU in 2020/21.
The PCC said: 'Issues around violent crime can not be resolved by Kent Police simply arresting more people. The police and partner agencies need to work together to help lift vulnerable young people out of a life of crime.’
Funding in 2019/20 supported 23 local projects which in turn engaged with around 600 people. They received extra support to help them change their lifestyle from a number of agencies focused on sport, or practical skills like catering or building. Emotional and wellbeing support was also provided.
Other initiatives include a welcome pack for Londoners moving to Maidstone designed to signpost families to support and recognise potential risk factors; and peer-led training in understanding Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). These were the winning concepts from a Serious Youth Violence Hackathon event where partners pitched ideas to a board of young people and VRU senior managers.
Money was also used to purchase more than 500 emergency trauma packs (ETPs), which have been distributed across the county.
The VRU's partners have agreed that funding in 2020/21 should be focused on the following areas:
- Work in prisons to reduce re-offending;
- Workshops in schools to engage with young people;
- Community interventions to help prevent serious youth violence;
- Work in custody to support under-25s implicated in violent crime;
- Health-based solutions.
News from the VRU
Funding recipients 2020/21
|Organisation||Nature of project||£|
|Street Soccer CIC||Match Fit: Digitally-delivered support and interactive workshops; plus sports equipment and activity packs for young people.||£14,800|
|The Folkestone Youth Project||The Shed: One-to-one session involving things like gardening and woodwork.||£14,300|
|Box Out of It CIC||Boxercise classes, delivered virtually by qualified coaches.||£10,000|
|Sport on your Doorstep CIC||StepBack: Activity classes and incentive cards, to be followed by outdoor sessions.||£9,240|
|Mid Kent Mind||Youth Resilience: Bespoke interventions with young people, specialising in youth violence and gang crime||£13,628|
|Brogdale CIC||Youth worker-led workshops in Sittingbourne||£8,112|
|Switch Youth Cafe||Additional staffing to engage with more young people in Maidstone||£4,251|
|Olympia Boxing CIC||Non-contact sports sessions in Tonbridge, Chatham, and Maidstone||£9,150|
|Changing Minds Kent||Diversionary multi-sports activities in Thanet; plus training for young people to become coaches themselves||£14,620|
The VRU also funds a police custody liaison scheme which helps young people identified as at risk of exploitation.
Police officers in custody suites who are concerned about an individual will urgently contact a St Giles Trust caseworker to work with the young person to divert them away from the criminal justice system in future by helping them stay in education, find work, build self-esteem or develop better relationships with family or professionals.