As we move from lockdown to the next form of ‘normal’, Northumbria’s Police & Crime Commissioner outlines how crime reduction will be at the centre of her regional recovery work, as her Violence Reduction Unit moves into phase 2 of their work.

Following a successful first phase that saw nearly £1 million invested into local charities and services supporting the vulnerable, the regions Violence Reduction Unit, led by Northumbria PCC Kim McGuinness, has outlined how they plan on supporting the regions recovery post-lockdown and continue to drive down crime across the area.

Serious violent crime is currently at the lowest level across Northumbria since before 2018, and whilst lockdown has clearly contributed to this, it had been reducing prior to the measures being implemented. The PCC has now unveiled the next steps and areas of priority for her VRU which is tasked with ‘improving lives to prevent crime’ across the region.

Kim said: “Following the recent announcement regarding the further easing of lockdown restrictions and the wider reopening of society, we must ensure that this does not lead to a rise in crime and continue to support our communities and the most vulnerable.”

“Through my Violence Reduction Unit we have been engaging our communities and services throughout the lockdown period and have acted where local issues have arisen. The combination of lockdown easing, establishments where people will be congregating reopening and the summer holidays approaching, there is the potential for the factors that often lead to crime reappearing.”

“Using the excuse of lockdown easing for any crime to rise is not acceptable. Our services have done an incredible job over the past 3 months supporting young people and the most vulnerable, and this will continue, albeit in a different format. We know the importance of communities supporting one another, and we’ve shown how well we can do this during lockdown – this connected community spirit will be vital to overcome any challenges the post-lockdown period brings.”

What society looks like post-lockdown is still unclear, but with many predicting job losses & a rise in unemployment, the VRU are working across the region to ensure the support networks that people may require are firmly in place.

Phase 2 of the Northumbria VRU, which will run until end of March 2021 following a second round of funding from the Government, will focus on 4 priority areas of; connecting communities, reduce offending, working with families and youth diversion.

Launching the areas of priority, Kim said: “Even in the short timescale that the Unit has been in operation, the landscape has changed drastically and we must respond to that. We are confident that through these four areas, along with our passionate delivery partners, we can support our communities and prevent a spike in crime.”

“Acts of crime can have devastating impacts on communities and individuals, and we must not allow that to happen. Through our work to date we have seen the impact we can have in deterring those on the cusp of criminality away from that lifestyle, as well as preventing reoffending through meaningful intervention work.”

“By delivering on our four priorities, we will ensure that the young people of Northumbria are given the best possible chance in life, and that their communities are there to support in times of need. Through our youth diversion programmes we will stop acts of criminality before they can take place – ultimately improving lives to prevent crime.”

The VRU, who take a ‘whole system approach’ to supporting families and aim to build resilience whilst reducing the risk of vulnerability, will be funding projects based at three Community Hubs in the next phase of their work. The hubs, based in Gateshead, Howdon & Southwick with the aim to increase pathways of support for families at the earliest opportunity.

Sarah Gorman, CEO of Edberts House, who will oversee the Gateshead based hub welcomed the joint approach to supporting families and expanding the existing support network on offer.

Sarah said: “We are excited about the potential of the Larkspur Life Team, who will be funded by the VRU.  They will be a vital addition to the strong partnership we have developed in the area, and will be able to build strong relationships with local young families, offering practical support and help, as well as piloting a new therapeutic approach, testing it in a community setting.”

Along with the launch of the this phase of work, the PCC is currently conducting a regional consultation with young people aged 14-25 that is seeking their views on lockdown, the impact of it, and what services may be required to support them as they transition back to school later in the year. With many young people unclear about what the future holds, the Commissioner is ensuring their voices are heard and feedback acted upon.

Kim said: “This has been an extremely difficult period for young people who will anxious about how this has impacted their education, employment opportunities and regularly used services. We will take the feedback gathered and work with the regions schools and services to ensure they get the best support possible.”

The survey can be accessed via and a full list of the projects being funded by the VRU in this phase of the work will shortly be available to view on the PCC website.