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Key stakeholders in Newcastle will come together on Thursday to shape an action plan aimed at reducing and preventing instances of criminal exploitation and serious violence in the city.

Approximately 150 representatives from Northumbria Police, Newcastle City Council and other agencies will gather at the Discovery Museum to assess the root causes of criminal exploitation and serious violence and look at where interventions can be made to protect vulnerable residents.

Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness and Newcastle City Council’s director of public health Eugene Milne will be among those speaking in favour of a public health approach to tackling the issues. National experts will also be addressing attendees to share their experiences of the issues.

The need for a Newcastle-specific action plan was agreed earlier this year following discussions between the Safe Newcastle board; the Newcastle Safeguarding Adults Board; Newcastle Safeguarding Children Board; and the Youth Offending Team.

Together, they hope to develop and implement an action plan focused on the themes of: understanding the problem; prevention, early engagement and diversion; education, awareness and training; safeguarding vulnerable people; and disruption of criminal activity.

Cllr Clare Penny-Evans, chair of Safe Newcastle and Newcastle City Council’s cabinet member for communities and climate change, said: “Criminal groups will always look to exploit the most vulnerable people in society for their own gain and to have the best chance of preventing this it is important we share our expertise and work together.

“In Newcastle we don’t have the levels of serious violence and exploitation seen in other cities, but we cannot afford to be complacent and we will always look at ways of improving outcomes for people in our city.

“It will be invaluable to share experiences and best practices with our partners in the city to find a way we can all work together to improve the safety of people living and working in Newcastle.”

Kim McGuinness, Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “Everyone at this conference will know that violent crime is a far more complex problem than the stereotypical image of a young male picking up a knife and lashing out, and so our response to violent crime cannot simply be a 999 call and a prison cell. Violence is not inevitable, it is in large parts predictable and we can prevent it. I’m setting up a Violence Reduction Unit to help co-ordinate our efforts and make a long-term difference here in Newcastle and throughout the whole of Northumbria. I want to work with others to ensure we can turn around lives and actually prevent people taking part in violent crime not pick up the pieces afterwards.”

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Police and Crime Commissioner visits knife crime session at Foundation Kicks

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness has visited young Newcastle United Foundation footballers learning about the laws, risks and impact of knife crime.

The Commissioner took time to get to know boys and girls in North Tyneside who attend the Newcastle United Foundation’s Premier League Kicks sessions each Friday evening.

Ahead of the youngsters heading out on the pitch to play football, the group are invited to join a game-orientated workshop on knife crime led by the Foundation’s Youth Violence team.

Commissioner McGuinness, who was also accompanied by MP for North Tyneside Mary Glindon, heard how the workshops and Kicks sessions help curb anti-social behaviour in the area and teaches the next generation there always victims of crime.

By using a number of team-building exercises, physical games and quick-fire questions, youngsters learn how to contact emergency services and how to help a victim of knife crime with vital first aid.

The group then lace up their boots for their weekly Premier League Kicks session at The Parks, in North Shields, using the power of football to engage hard-to-reach youngsters in some of the most high-need areas of the region.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness said: “It’s initiatives like this that I believe can really make a difference – helping build confidence and equipping our young people with the skills and knowledge they need to hopefully encourage them to strive for a bright future.

“This can have far-reaching benefits for families, schools and ultimately the wider community too. Everyone I met from the Foundation was full of positivity and the young people were really engaged and happy to be there – a credit to all involved.”

Vital funding from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office sees more than 2,000 young people enjoy the free weekly football sessions each year via the Premier League Kicks programme.

The Foundation also supports young people by signposting them onto other projects that could help them develop further, including Employability Support, National Citizen Service and volunteering. A number of volunteers who started out as Kicks participants have made the transition to sessional staff, part-time and full-time coaches.

Senior PL Kicks Coordinator, Jonny Larkin, said: “It’s been fantastic to show the commissioner what our coaches do for young people in North Tyneside and explain that our charity work often goes way beyond football.

“Kim and Mary have been able to see our participants positively engaging with staff by using a mixture of sport, games and logical thinking. They’ve also been able to talk to some of our young players and hear how much they enjoy coming to The Parks each Friday night.

“Our coaches are always dedicating to helping participants grow and to encourage them to realise there are always other opportunities or paths they can take to reach their goals, whatever they may be.”

Additional funding from the Premier League, Sport England, Newcastle City Council and Postcode Community Trust allows Newcastle United Foundation staff to delivered free PL Kicks sessions at 12 different venues across Newcastle, North Tyneside, Gateshead and Northumberland.


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