Violence Reduction Unit (VRU)
The 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 across Kent and Medway.
It was created in 2019 after the PCC was awarded £1,160,000 from the Home Office. In December 2019, the Government 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. These projects included:
- Maidstone and Mid Kent Mind - Delivering half-day programmes over six weeks in partnership with the Youth Resilience Forum to address knife crime amongst young people and provide support to those most vulnerable and at risk,
- Forward Trust - Working with women in the community with a previous custodial and non-custodial sentence and links to substance misuse,
- HMP Elmley - Working with offenders to re-establish links with family members and build support networks prior to release.
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.
Funding recipients 2020/21
The VRU 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.
Work to commission services to deliver other interventions linked to the above priority areas in 2020/21 is ongoing.