Yorkshire police bosses speak out on how violent crime needs to be tackled

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson spoke at the serious violence event held in Leeds.
West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson spoke at the serious violence event held in Leeds.
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Violent crime must be treated as a serious disease - this is the message from Yorkshire police bosses as they join forces to tackle the ever growing issue.

Police and Crime Commissioners for West Yorkshire Police, South Yorkshire Police and Humberside Police attended at a summit held at the Royal Armouries in Leeds on Monday.

Speakers at the event, organised by the Home Office, also included Nick Hunt, Head of Serious Violence Unit at the Home Office, West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson, Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Russ Foster and Victoria Atkins, Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability.

Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Russ Foster said: "Reducing serious violent crime and offences involving knives is a major focus for West Yorkshire Police.

"West Yorkshire Police recognise the significant impact serious violence has on our communities and have launched a forcewide operation with bespoke deployment plans and targeted high visibility patrols.

"So far, this has resulted in an additional 1200 officers deployed in high visibility roles across the force delivering an extra 10,000 hours of patrol, resulting in 300 arrests, many of them for serious violence offences.

"Our communities and local partnerships will be at the heart of our multi-strand approach to tackling serious violent crime which includes knife crime."

The summit held in Leeds was one of many events across the country. It comes after Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced the provisional allocation of £35 million to 18 police and crime commissioners to set up violence reduction units, and that there will be an additional £1.5 million of funding for the third year of the Anti-Knife Crime Community Fund, which will go towards small community projects to reduce knife crime.

Dr Alan Billings, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire recently visited Glasgow to look at the successful implementation of a Serious Violence Reduction Unit in the city over ten years ago and the success the scheme has had in reducing the number of shootings and stabbings.

He said: "The public health approach treats violent crime as if it were a disease. The way to stop a disease spreading is by tacking the causes, not just dealing with those already infected. It's about prevention as much as cure.

"The lesson of this approach is that if you are going to get to the roots of why people get caught up in violence and keep them away from it, you need a range of partners to help, not just the police.

"If organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors work together to tackle such issues as domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse and poverty at an early stage, and provide the right level of support and advice for families, I believe many young people can be steered away from a life involving serious violence."

West Yorkshire PCC Mr Burns-Williamson echoed the thoughts of Dr Billings and also spoke of early intervention being the key to tackle serious violence.

He said: "Whilst policing and law enforcement has a key role, as partners we have to intervene earlier, including in schools, to ensure we are providing an alternative to those young people vulnerable to being drawn into a world of serious crime.

"The new investment in establishing Violent Crime Reduction Units (VRUs) is an important step forward to formulate a better collective understanding and find solutions that will last.

"However, reducing violence is a long-term challenge requiring sustained investment and commitment from the Government that needs to be followed through over at least the next three to five years and it is a role for many agencies, including public, voluntary and the private sector as well as communities themselves."

Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner Keith Hunter said: "In line with the Governments' serious violence strategy, we are committed to early intervention and addressing the key drivers for violence. Our early intervention projects are aimed at giving young people alternatives, assisting them to make more positive choices and enabling safe and strong communities."