Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness has announced £220,000 worth of interventions will be rolled out by her Violence Reduction Unit as part of plans to fight and prevent crime this winter.

As part of determined efforts to prevent serious violence in the North-East, the Violence Reduction Unit has drawn up a programme of work which includes targeted interventions and activities to tackle the root causes of crime.

Plans will focus on working with those causing the most disruption in communities and will aim to divert them away from crime with positive opportunities.

The Violence Reduction Unit successfully ramped up activity over the summer in a bid to stop spikes in violence and keep people safe. This involved more patrols and more youth workers engaging with young people over the Jubilee weekend and at iconic events such as the famous Newcastle Hoppings.

Although serious violence has been on the rise this year, levels dropped by 12.2% in August thanks to targeted interventions, more youth workers and diversionary activities for young people, reinforcing the Violence Reduction Unit’s approach of working closely with partners such as Police, local councils and youth organisations, to prevent crime from happening.

The impact of this work has led to identifying perpetrators as well as young people at risk of becoming involved in crime and preventing anti-social behaviour to help communities feel safer.

Chairing the Violence Reduction Unit’s quarterly strategic board meeting this month, PCC Kim McGuinness welcomed the plans outlined to mitigate a rise in serious violence over the winter months. At the board, the following preventative measures were agreed:

  • Targeted programmes in place to identify and work with individuals causing the most significant harm in Newcastle and Gateshead.
  • A team to be operational in Newcastle, engaging with young people, as well as having a specific focus on key events throughout the winter months.
  • Gateshead will continue to have police patrols in identified areas as well as targeted activities to engage young people around key dates. A community safety team will also focus on adult-related ASB and alcohol-related domestic abuse.
  • In North Tyneside, young people will be engaged in activities that divert them from crime as well as signposting support. Plain-clothes police operations will also take place to address peer group violence and the carrying of knives.
  • Patrols, outreach work and activities to be delivered in hotspot areas by a dedicated team in South Tyneside.
  • A team will be deployed in identified areas of Northumberland, to engage with young people, as well as in developing projects to improve environments.
  • Sunderland will expand on the work delivered in the summer, with further activity to take place as part of its city-wide operational plans for the darker nights.

All staff involved in delivering this crucial work are required to undertake the Violence Reduction Unit’s knife crime awareness training, aimed at giving professionals a better understanding of the factors that can increase a person’s vulnerability to becoming both a perpetrator and a victim of knife crime.

The session covers why young people might carry a knife, the consequences of doing so and the law as well as signposting additional information and support.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “There has been lots of targeted work taking place over the summer with positive results but we can’t stop there. There is always so much more that could be done, more kids to engage with, more lives to change.

“With the darker nights arriving, lots of events set to take place and more people planning nights out, it makes it all the more important for the Violence Reduction Unit to work with those causing the most disruption in our communities and deter them from crime at the earliest opportunity. Our approach aims to educate young people with a focus on early intervention; however, we will not tolerate violence in our communities and for those who do not engage in our interventions, there are likely to be consequences.”

She added: “No-one should ever become a victim of crime but sadly we know that it does happen. So, whether you live or work in this fantastic region or are simply visiting to experience all it has to offer over the winter period, I want you to feel safe when doing so. The more we can invest in prevention, the stronger our position will be in the fight against crime.”

For more information about the Northumbria Violence Reduction Unit, visit the website.