Leicestershire Police and Crime Commissioner Lord Willy Bach today announced the appointment of a Strategic Director to lead the development of the county’s new Violence Reduction Unit.
Grace Strong, who has specialist experience tackling young adult offending in her work within probation services and multi-agency teams, will head a multi-partnership team whose focus is to reduce violence and knife crime across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.
Leicestershire was recently chosen by the Home Office to receive £880,000 from its Serious Violence Fund to tackle serious violence in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.
The funding must be invested into the development of a Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) – a multi-agency hub being created in 18 locations across the country to manage the local response to serious violence and knife crime and bring partners together to prevent young people from being drawn into crime.
The key goals in Leicestershire are to reduce hospital admissions related to violence, reduce knife-related serious violence and reduce all non-domestic homicides.
Grace, who lives in Leicestershire and studied Social Studies at Newcastle University before completing an MA in Social Work at the School of Social Work, Leicester University, was officially unveiled at a multi-agency meeting on Tuesday (Aug 6) agreeing the next steps in the development of the VRU.
Grace Strong said: “I am delighted to have been appointed as Strategic Director of our Violence Reduction Unit. The causes of serious violence are complex, and the challenges ahead are undoubtedly significant. However, I am confident that with a shared ambition, commitment and the right approach, the VRU - working closely with partners and communities - can make the changes needed to prevent and reduce violence across LLR.”
Willy Bach added: “This is a new and exciting role and we are very fortunate that Grace has accepted the role as the first Strategic Director of this new unit.
“She has amassed a great deal of experience and expertise on tackling offending during her career and also has a wealth of practical knowledge in leading multi-partner organisations. We are very fortunate to welcome her as the VRU’s new Strategic Director.
“Under Grace’s capable leadership, we will have a real opportunity to make a difference to young people across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland and prevent knife crime and violence both now and in the long term.”
A senior Probation Officer in Loughborough and Melton, Grace went on to become Team Manager of the Multi-Agency Prolific and Priority Offender Management (MAPPOM) and the Integrated Offender Management Programme. Later, she went on to hold a range of management roles within the Reducing Reoffending Partnership including Interim Head of Partnerships.
Career highlights include leading Leicestershire and Rutland’s Young Adult Project (Yap!), which prioritised young people aged 16-24 at risk of committing crime and examined how agencies could work differently and more effectively to improve outcomes. Grace also designed and mobilised the award-winning Engage Team, spoke at the national Transition to Adulthood conference and gave evidence at the Justice Select Committee’s enquiry into Young Adults and the Criminal Justice System.