June 18, 2021. News

A public health approach to tackling serious violence: First VRU Strategic Needs Assessment published

Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) has published its first annual Strategic Needs Assessment document, presenting detailed insights into the prevalence and root causes of violence.   

It draws together data from multi-agency partners and uses the latest analytical techniques to produce a detailed understanding of the current volume of serious violence, where it takes place and who is most at risk. Currently produced annually, it is hoped to become a “live” system in coming months, providing the most up-to-date data and insight.

Throughout the process of developing the assessment, the VRU has worked with partners including Thames Valley Police, local authorities, health, youth offending, probation and prisons services, education and public health.

The document informs local partners across the Thames Valley, helping them to plan their local response to serious violence and to address its causes at the earliest point. From increasing diversion work with young people, more support for those who are vulnerable, to more targeted policing operations in hot spot areas and against those who pose the greatest risk.    

The Strategic Needs Assessment supports the adoption of a public health approach to tackle serious violence, as set out in the government’s 2018 Serious Violence Strategy.  

This means greater emphasis placed by policing and partner agencies on prevention and early intervention work. By identifying protective and risk factors and addressing them, much violence can be prevented.   

Key baseline findings presented in the Strategic Needs Assessment include:

The Strategic Needs Assessment explores those risk factors that evidence has shown increase the prevalence of serious violence and has informed new programmes of work for the coming year. This includes:

Stan Gilmour, the Director of the Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit, said:

“I am immensely proud of our first Strategic Needs Assessment, behind which sits a cutting-edge data analytics platform and a great deal of hard work from our partners.

“We know that tackling serious violence is not just a policing matter; violence can be treated like a disease and it is preventable.

“It requires all agencies to work together, across our organisational boundaries. We must put in place support networks for the vulnerable, diversion activities to give people a chance to turn their lives around, and focused deterrents and enforcement against those most at risk of committing violence.

“There is also a role for everyone in our communities; helping to support young people, to create opportunities for them, to prevent and address early adversity and trauma in young people.”

Matthew Barber, Police & Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley, said:

“Serious violence, especially knife crime, destroys – or tragically ends – too many lives. The police are key to tackling this challenge through enforcement but to end this public health crisis we need every agency and every part of society to be involved. 

“This important report will help all of our partners to better understand the challenges we all need to address in order to reduce violence and save lives.”

The Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit Strategic Needs Assessment is available to download on our website www.tvvpp.co.uk