A new diversion service is being rolled out across the region, which will place specialist staff in hospitals and local communities to tackle violent crime, by reaching young people before it is too late.

Reducing hospital admissions for knife related serious violence is a key priority for the Northumbria Violence Reduction Unit, with A&E departments identified as a crucial point of contact.

The bespoke service will provide full support and structured interventions for young people, under the age of 25, to reduce their risk of committing serious violence and to prevent them being exploited for crime.

Initially, A&E Navigators will be present within the emergency departments of Sunderland’s Royal Hospital and Newcastle’s RVI, to identify young people who have come in with injuries or concerns linked to violent crime.

Specialist staff will then be on hand in local communities to deliver a range of interventions that are tailored to address individual needs as well as providing support to young people and their families, through one-to-one or group sessions.

The Northumbria Violence Reduction Unit is working in partnership with Humankind Charity to provide the wrap around support and access to services, focusing on the health, wellbeing and interests of the young person to divert them from crime and reduce re-offending.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “To bring an end to violent crime, we need to prevent it from happening in the first place. That’s why the Violence Reduction Unit works to educate young people on the dangers of becoming involved in crime, identifying those already showing signs of serious violence and addressing any risks in their life that could make them vulnerable to exploitation from organised crime groups. This new service provides a unique opportunity to reach young people at the point they are accessing our hospital A&E departments, with dedicated staff in place to understand what has led them to that moment and prevent it from happening time and time again. Community based staff will then provide tailored interventions and support for young people and their families, to break the cycle of violent crime.”

She added: Positive activities and interventions help us to address an individual’s needs, focus on areas of their life and take steps to improve it – things like re-engaging with education or training and employment opportunities all help to provide a deterrence from crime and to live a life without violence.”

Assistant Director for Community Services at Humankind Charity, Faye Simpson, said: “We are proud of our work providing comprehensive support to young people to improve their health and wellbeing outcomes and believe this work makes a lasting difference to the quality of their lives. We are looking forward to working in partnership with the Police and Crime Commissioner, which will allow us to extend our outreach activity and engage with more people who might not usually come forward for support.”

For more information, please contact the Northumbria Violence Reduction Unit by email vru@northumbria-pcc.gov.uk