New unit to help police tackle violent crime in Sussex

A Violence Reduction Unit is set to be created in Sussex
A Violence Reduction Unit is set to be created in Sussex

A new unit tackling violent crime in Sussex is due to be set up following the award of Government funding.

The county is one of 18 areas to receive Home Office funding to create a Violence Reduction Unit.

This will bring together police, local authorities, health and community leaders to identify root causes and drivers of violent crime and co-ordinate a response.

Sussex’s share of the funding will be £880,000 and was welcomed by the county’s police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne.

She said: “This significant boost to funding follows the £1,340,000 that I have secured for Sussex to combat serious violent crime. Combined with other successful bids we have made this year, it means Sussex Police and partners have received just over £3million of funding to address youth crime and exploitation, knife crime and modern slavery.”

Mrs Bourne, who is the national chair of the Association of PCCs, was at 10 Downing Street earlier this week to take part in a roundtable discussion on the criminal justice system hosted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Julia Chapman, assistant chief constable at Sussex Police, said: “The announcement today of £880,000 from the Home Office will go a long way in continuing our early intervention work with partners and communities, helping stop crime before it starts. We are extremely grateful for the support from the PCC’s office in helping us progress these programmes, and develop new ones, such as the violence reduction units.”

Each unit will be tasked with delivering both short and long-term strategies to tackle violent crime, involving police, healthcare workers, community leaders and others.

The £35 million for violence reduction units comes from a £100 million serious violence fund announced in March.

Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said: “To beat knife crime we must do two things: first we need assertive, high profile police enforcement and second, we need a coordinated approach to the long term solutions to violence in society, especially amongst the young. These new units should help us get results on both.”

Mr Johnson has announced plans for 20,000 new police officers nationwide, and has authorised changes to stop and search powers.

Meanwhile he has also promised an extra 10,000 prison places.

Mrs Bourne said: “The public health approach to violence reduction that was pioneered in Scotland will be extended and adapted in 18 areas of England and Wales.

We know that it works. Our early intervention ‘REBOOT’ programme is already having an immediate and positive impact for young people, their families and their communities, and I am very keen to see more targeted partnership interventions at the prevention stage that the VRUs will lead.”

The funding was also welcomed by Lewes MP Maria Caulfield, who said: “Having attended a public meeting in Newhaven with residents recently on the issue of crime, I know this investment in our local police will be welcome.

“The police in Sussex do a great job but they need the investment and support to make this happen. It feels that at last our police officers are being given the resources and powers to do their jobs.”