The Violence Reduction Network (VRN) is a partnership of groups, organisations and communities, including Leicestershire Police, aiming to prevent and reduce serious violence across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.
Established by the Police and Crime Commissioner, the VRN is one of 18 Home Office funded units across the country that are taking a public heath approach to understanding and tackling the root causes of violence in their local area.
Over the past two years, interventions funded by the VRN have worked with hundreds of young people to divert them away from violence, including knife crime, and support them to achieve positive outcomes.
Grace Strong, Strategic Director of the VRN, said: “The causes of violence are complex and often deep rooted. Our responses need to go beyond behavioural change and address key issues such as attendance at school, employment, substance misuse as well as root causes such as inequality and poverty.
“Prevention and early intervention are key and part of that is ensuring the right type and level of support exists at precisely the right time. Everyone has a role to play and that’s why the VRN pulls together communities as well as partners from local authorities, health, education and the criminal justice system.”
One scheme already experiencing success is the Violence Intervention Project (VIP). Delivered by Turning Point, with funding from the VRN, it engages young people in Leicester Royal Infirmary’s A&E with violence related injuries.
Grace said: “That moment in hospital can be the point of reflection wherein young people already affected by violence are most open to support and the prospect of change. It gives us the chance, without judgement, to ask them about their lives, their hopes and ambitions and offer concrete opportunities for change.”
Bethany Cleaver from Turning Point said: “By placing ourselves at the traumatic turning point for these young people, we’re able to build trusting, supportive relationships to help them make positive and courageous changes in their life. In doing so, we strive to break the cycle of violence and keep our young people safe in a thriving community full of opportunity.”
Another VRN funded intervention focuses on preventing violence from occurring in the first place. The Mentors in Violence Prevention Programme (MVP), trains young people in secondary schools as mentors and equips them with the confidence, knowledge and skills to identify and speak out against bullying, abusive behaviour and violence. It aims to tackle the beliefs, attitudes and culture which can give the message that violence is acceptable.
While the Unlocking Potential project delivered by Leicestershire Cares, focuses on supporting young people into Education, Training and Employment by offering concrete opportunities with employers and the wrap-around support to ensure the young person achieves sustainable outcomes.
Rupert Matthews, Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, added: “We are starting to see positive results from this early partnership. Most importantly, young people involved are reporting feeling safer and achieving more positive outcomes.
“By developing well evidenced strategies and interventions, we can make a difference. I’m very pleased with the progress made so far.”