£1.6 MILLION TO BE INVESTED IN TACKLING SERIOUS VIOLENCE ACROSS NORTHUMBRIA

Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner has secured a further 12 months funding to tackle serious violence and its root causes, but has called for a long term approach from the Government.

The regions Violence Reduction Unit, led by Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness, will spearhead the preventative approach to tackling serious violence across Northumbria for another 12 months after receiving a third round of Government funding.

Since launching, the Unit has contributed to the regions decline in crime, serious violence, and fall in number of knives used on our streets. Though the Commissioner believes even more could be done if the Government tackled serious violence with a long term approach.

Going into the third phase of their work, Northumbria VRU will again be focusing on supporting the region’s most vulnerable young people, providing interventions and diversionary activities, as well as working in the heart of communities to build resilience and relationships.

Kim said: “Funding this work for another 12 months is absolutely the right thing to do – but we cannot keep approaching this with a year on year approach, the Government need to properly finance this with a long term strategy.

“In the 12 months since the Unit launched, we’ve seen a 10% fall in knife crime – this was reducing even before the pandemic hit. Whilst obviously pleasing, it is frustrating to think what we could truly be achieving if we had the knowledge this was going to funded past the 12 month guarantees from Government.

“In our plans for the next year, we are looking at life changing work – not something that can just be delivered with a few weeks’ notice and a short term approach, this is intensive work with some of the most vulnerable young people in the region. We are stopping them being exploited for criminals personal gain, preventing them being involved in County Lines, and diverting them onto a positive lifestyle path.”

Running until the end of March 2022, the year ahead will see the unit invest in a range of direct interventions and programmes, including an expansion of their Community Hub and Link Worker model – taking services directly to communities most in need. The Unit currently fund Hubs in Southwick, Gateshead and Howdon, with a further 3 planned in the coming months.

A further three areas will also benefit from funding to provide a Link Worker, adding to the already funded programmes currently supporting communities in Gateshead, North Tyneside and Northumberland. The roles focus on building relationships with those in the community at risk of becoming involved in violence, and often use those with lived experiences to mentor those identified from following this route.

The expansion of the programme promises to provide vital support services, having already successfully worked with families & individuals around issues including; domestic abuse, drug misuse, anxiety, mental health concerns, school exclusions and housing support.

However, not all was a positive – the Commissioner has warned that as lockdown eases and the economy feels the impact of the past 12 months, crime has the potential to rise unless preventative measures like her Violence Reduction Unit, are the focus of Government plans.

Kim warned: “Whilst we are all looking forward to restrictions easing, and getting back to some form of normality, not everything will be as it was before. I am concerned about the lack of opportunities for young people come the easing of restrictions.”

“There is likely to be significant challenges in regards to youth employment – something we know can lead to increased vulnerability. We are exploring options around this, having discussions with employers and providers, and will continue to support the regional recovery post-pandemic.”

The third phase of Northumbria VRU will begin in April 2021.

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BACK TO WORK: Many local organisations are training up Domestic Abuse Workplace Champions ahead of the nation’s return to work – thanks to a virtual roll-out of a scheme from PCC Kim McGuinness’s office

Hopes for lockdown easing and vaccine breakthroughs are leading bosses across the region to start making plans for when the time comes for staff to return to the office. 

Supporting staff with their physical and mental well-being has been high on the priority list for many businesses during lockdown, and based on the rise in reported cases of DA many are now increasing their focus on domestic abuse and are using a reinvigorated scheme run by the Office of the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, to help.

During the pandemic, many frontline and specialist domestic abuse services experienced a rise in demand as stay at home orders trapped survivors in the house, with their abuser.

As of Friday 19th February, the scheme, which raises awareness of domestic abuse and guides people towards specialist services, has switched to digital delivery. So far, 140 people have signed up, and the course is now fully subscribed until the end of May, with further dates to be scheduled.

Previously the scheme has engaged with more than 300 businesses from throughout the North East, and trained up more than 1,500 champions.

To ensure the training reaches as many people as possible, the office has partnered with the Better Health at Work Award, coordinated by the Northern TUC, to offer the specialist training to the hundreds of employers who are committed to the health and wellbeing of their workforce, including making domestic abuse their business. Companies who have had representatives take part in the online training so far come from a range of sectors including childcare, engineering and across the public sector.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “Really, what we have seen is a pandemic within a pandemic and we have to respond to this. It’s imperative that as many people as possible are clued up when it comes to supporting someone suffering domestic abuse.

“Domestic abuse is very much a hidden crime and lockdowns provide an even more conducive environment to perpetrate these crimes and less opportunity to escape them, so it’s more important than ever that we have this scheme up and running.

“Employers have a duty and responsibility to provide staff with a safe working environment and we know that for some staff the workplace can be the only safe haven from domestic abuse and violence. The impending return of people to work could, for some, be a really crucial moment to get out and get free of their abuser. People working from home can also be in a position to help; perhaps overhearing something being said in the background on a call or being a confidant.”

Beth Farhat, Northern TUC Regional Secretary said: “The rise of Domestic Abuse is a hugely worrying trend so reversing this has to be a priority and the reinvigoration and adaptation of this training and associated networks, communication and support channels is a really significant and practical way to help do that.  

“Workplace health and wellbeing has never been more important and despite the immense challenges of the last year we have seen a wealth of fantastic and proactive practise through our Better Health at Work Award employers. Their overwhelming response to, and participation in, this training is fantastic and indicative of the importance they place on safeguarding their workers’ health, safety and wellbeing. 

“I firmly hope that the training and overarching DA scheme will make a positive impact in organisations, for individuals and ultimately, on the number of victims – if it helps one person, then it has made all the difference.”

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KIM McGUINNESS: BOXING CLUBS ARE VITAL FOR IMPROVING LIVES TO PREVENT CRIME – THE GOVERNMENT MUST STEP UP AND SUPPORT THEM

Boxing clubs and the vital youth support they offer will suffer after being excluded from the Governments £300 million Sports Winter Survival Package, Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner has warned.

While other sports received shares of the Governments flagship £300m sports support package announced in November, boxing was excluded – leading to calls from a number of star boxers for the Government to ensure organisations and youth programmes can continue post-pandemic.

Now, in Northumbria, boxing clubs, fire fighters and the PCC have joined together to call on the government to do more.

Locally, through the Police Commissioner’s Violence Reduction Unit, a number of boxing clubs receive funds to deliver youth diversion and mentoring programmes, providing a safe space and alternative option to those who may otherwise engage in negative behaviours.

The Police Commissioner has now written to the sports minister calling for action.

Kim McGuinness said: “I have seen first-hand how boxing can give young people a structure to their lives, whilst engaging in a positive activity that develops them both physically and mentally.

“Through funding provided by my VRU we have local boxing clubs working with young people – diverting them away from criminality and an unfavourable lifestyle.”

One of the funded organisations, Jobes Boxing & Fitness Gym, which is based in the West End of Newcastle, claims young people who would usually be attending the gym have reverted back to criminal behaviour as a result of the closure and lack of engagement.

Matt Jobes, head coach at the club, said: “The gym shields young people from the temptations and dangers of the street and gangs, without them really even being aware.  It’s a true tragedy that Boxing Gyms have had to close and not be able to offer our services to the young people.”

While professional and elite boxers can continue to train in local gyms, recreational sessions and those targeted at supporting vulnerable young people have been put on hold.

Tyne and Wear Fire & Rescue Service, who also run boxing intervention programmes delivered by their own serving firefighters, have also seen the benefits the sport can bring – reducing ASB and nuisance complaints, whilst improving relationships between young people and their staff.

Chris Lowther, Chief Fire Officer at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “As a Service we are proud of the work already undertaken in our boxing hubs supporting the young people of our area, and have experienced positive engagement. This has been assisted greatly by the funding received from the Commissioner.

We believe that through these activities, young people can enhance, not just their physical health but also their mental wellbeing. Our highly trained coaches teach respect, discipline and self-belief which then builds confidence and improves life skills, which is why funding for such community initiatives is so important.”

The closure has seen coaches, as well as young people, impacted according to Grainger Park Boxing Club, another recipient of funding from the VRU.

The club added, “A number of our coaches have also struggled with their mental health and wellbeing. Two have referred themselves back to their GP for support and had to access specialist services.

The Commissioner has written to Nigel Huddleston, Sports Minister, as well as backing the call from Labour MP, Chris Evans, who chairs the All Parliamentary Group on Boxing.

 

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Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness has announced that a one-off pot of money totalling £354.126 is to be awarded throughout our region to services who currently support survivors of domestic abuse (DA) and sexual violence (SV).

This funding will provide additional support to meet demand/need in the 2021-2022 financial year (1 April 2021 – 31 March 2022). Funding can be used to support existing clients as well as new referrals and will enable a lot of the good work that has been happening in our region to continue.

Organisations which may be eligible for this funding are registered charities, charitable incorporated organisations, social enterprises and statutory services. They must, however, provide support services which have the purpose of helping victims (adults and/or children) of SV or DA cope with the impacts of crime, and, as far as possible, recover from the harm they have experienced.

DA/SV support services could include, but are not limited to: counselling for survivors and their families, support for particular groups such as Black and Minoritised/disabled/LGBT/male survivors, IDVAs/ISVAs, CHIDVAs/CHISVAs and family court support. Funding may be used to address short term income disruption, meet essential costs of sustaining activity or to address an increase in demand or anticipated demand.

We have attempted to streamline the process to alleviate services of as much work as possible by not running a competitive bidding process. However, to apply for funding, organisations must complete the attached template and return to maxime.rowson@northumbria-pcc.gov.uk, along with a copy of their annual accounts, by Tuesday 2 March 2021.

Whilst we cannot guarantee that we will be able to offer the level of funding requested, we will endeavour to make sure those in need benefit.

Please note, that funding cannot be used for:

  • Campaigning activities
  • Religious activities outside of projects benefiting the wider community and not containing religious content
  • Political or lobbying activities
  • Loan repayments
  • Activities that make profit for private gain
  • Capital works e.g. building repairs, but can be used for other capital costs such as ICT equipment to enhance your communications and help reach local people.
  • Refuges/accommodation and their staff

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Maxime Rowson, Policy and Research Officer – maxime.rowson@northumbria-pcc.gov.uk

NB: This is MoJ funding. The MoJ has also released a separate pot of funding for ISVA/IDVA services. Your organisation should have received an email from the OPCC about this if you offer IDVA/ISVA provision. If you have not, please do get in touch.

 

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The police precept will increase by 4.99%, which equates to 57 pence a month for a Band D property for residents in the North East and will help fund 60 new detectives with fighting crime, says Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuiness.

The decision was agreed at an online meeting of the Northumbria Police and Crime Panel on Tuesday, where members unanimously supported the increase.

It follows weeks of public consultation where Police Commissioner Kim McGuinness asked local people to share their views on a range of options for the police precept – the force’s share of local council tax bills.

The consultation asked households how much they would be prepared to pay to support the work of police in our area.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “I’ve not signed off this increase lightly. I don’t want to be in a position where I am asking people to pay more, however small, but our police have suffered years of continuous underfunding and I want to do everything I can to put things right.

“We have to have a force that is well resourced if we are to take on the criminals who are out there causing misery and suffering to others. I want our force to be able to do even more to fight crime and prevent crime – this will help cover that.

“In fact, what the extra money translates to is more officers – which is exactly what people want to see. This will include 60 new detectives supporting our neighbourhood policing and going down hard on serious organised crime. I surveyed local residents to help form my plan for the next 4 years and they were more than clear that these were top priorities.

She added: “The extra money isn’t all about the here and now either. With crime it’s crucial that we keep ahead of the game and focus on preventing it from happening in the years ahead. We have to future proof our force. This will be particularly crucial as we deal with the aftermath of the pandemic.

“This small increase will help towards keeping our region safe and there has been overwhelming support for that, so now Northumbria Police need to deliver on the people’s priorities that are set out in my Police and Crime Plan.”

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