A WORD FROM APCC SERIOUS VIOLENCE LEAD MARK BURNS-WILLIAMSON, PCC FOR WEST YORKSHIRE
Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) have a hugely important role in tackling the scourge of serious violence in our communities. Whilst policing and law enforcement has a key role, as partners we have to intervene earlier, to ensure we are providing positive alternatives to those people vulnerable to being targeted and drawn into violent and serious crime.
The new investment announced earlier this year is enabling a number of PCCs to establish Violent Crime Reduction Units (VRUs). These new units are bringing together expertise from education, health, local government, third/voluntary sector, law enforcement and others in order to better understand and tackle the root causes ultimately to reduce levels of serious violence. I believe PCCs are best placed to deliver this work in their local areas, investing in preventative measures and further developing a whole system public health approach that will work on the ground.
As we have seen elsewhere VRU’s are an important step forward in formulating a better collective understanding and response, but we know that violence in all its forms is a long-term challenge and we have called for sustained investment to be confirmed over at least the next 3-5-year period.
Going forward we will work closely with Government and our wider community safety partners to ensure that, importantly, all local communities through their PCCs and police force areas can benefit from the crucial work of Violence Reduction Units.
Tasers to be made available for more frontline officers
Following recent high-profile serious attacks on officers, £10m of Government funding will be made available to increase the number of frontline police officers carrying tasers.
The funding comes at a time when assaults on police officers are one of the most serious topical policing issues nationally. The priority for all Police and Crime Commissioners, alongside keeping the public safe, is the protection and safety of police officers and staff.
APCC Chair, Katy Bourne OBE PCC said: “PCCs recognise and appreciate the exceptional and often dangerous job that officers do to protect the public in our communities and the news of recent attacks have resonated with the public and throughout our discussions around police officer safety.
Ultimately the decision to give tasers to more officers is an operational one for local Chief Constables to make in conjunction with their PCC. I fully support my Chief Constable, which is why Sussex Police is in the process of issuing tasers to all frontline officers that want one.”
APCC use of force lead, Martyn Underhill PCC said: “The decision to increase the number of Taser Trained Officers is primarily an operational one for Chief Constables to make in discussion with their Police and Crime Commissioner. Most PCCs fully acknowledge the need for more Taser trained officers in order to better protect our communities and many are already investing to increase the numbers. We will continue to work alongside Ministers and Chief Constables around the details of this announcement, particularly around the ring-fencing of the funds, as we know that there are concerns amongst PCCs about how this will operate.”
Return of the Domestic Abuse Bill welcomed by PCCs
The Second Reading of the Domestic Abuse Bill this week was welcomed by Police and Crime Commissioners who have called for the Government to pass the legislation at the earliest opportunity. PCCs’ concerns were alleviated by the Government’s commitment to carry over the Bill, without interruption, following the Queen’s Speech.
As champions for victims and with responsibility for commissioning the majority of victims services locally, tackling domestic abuse is a key priority for PCCs. This legislation is a once in a generation opportunity and we need to ensure that we grasp the opportunity to take forward work that is transformational in nature. Therefore PCCs have called for the Government to commit the resources necessary to ensure there is an opportunity to drive these positive measures in the Bill and tackle domestic abuse. PCCs will continue to engage with the Bill as it progresses through Parliament.
PCC’s funding bid to tackle summer surge strains
Devon and Cornwall PCC, Alison Hernandez, last week headed to Westminster with a delegation of councillors, MPs and police representatives from across the force area to see Policing Minister Kit Malthouse accept a bid for additional funding to help police deal with the impact of millions of summer visitors.
The bid details £17.9m of expenditure over three years that is linked to the ‘summer surge’ and requests compensation for this.
While tourists bring local prosperity, there is no direct revenue from this to fund police.
Devon and Cornwall officers and staff struggle to cope with an 11% rise in crime in the months between April and September, a 14% rise in incidents and an 18% increase in missing people.
PCC Alison Hernandez said: “Devon and Cornwall are stunning places to visit but we’re not free from crime. In recent months two huge cocaine hauls were detected off our coast, the force has disrupted county lines drug dealing schemes and a serious and organised people smuggling operation. Our communities deserve consistently good service from the force and this bid is all about us being able to keep them, and our visitors, safe.”
PCC’s public health approach to tackling knife crime in Avon and Somerset
Work to tackle the root cause of knife crime and serious violence in Avon and Somerset is underway following the Police and Crime Commissioner’s inaugural Strategic Violence Reduction Unit meeting.
PCC Sue Mountstevens has allocated the VRU funding to the five local authority areas within Avon and Somerset according to the level and nature of serious violence they are experiencing so that opportunities for prevention and early intervention can be identified locally and given a local response.
The five local authorities are tasked with working with education, health and police partners, to identifying the drivers of serious violence in their area and collaborate in developing a co-ordinated responses to tackle them.
The PCC commissioned a special report by The Behavioural Insights Team. Entitled ‘Developing a Serious Violence Strategy for Avon and Somerset’ the report will provide a starting point for the VRU in understanding the nature of serious violence across the area as well as providing evidence on how to approach the issue.
Sue Mounstevens said: “After a successful first meeting with the VRU, I firmly believe that by working together on a public health approach we can tackle serious violence and keep our communities safe.
“By taking action together we can protect the most vulnerable in our communities from becoming victims, we can stop young people from being exploited and we can find solutions to support those at risk of being drawn into a life of violence.”
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