West Yorkshire to receive extra £3.3m to tackle violent crime

West Yorkshire is to get an additional £3.3m from the Government to help tackle violent crime across the region.

The cash - from a £35 million pot - has been allocated to the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) to continue running West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit.

The West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit brings together different organisations including police, local government, health and community leaders to prevent serious violence by understanding its root causes.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced £35m in funding in August for 18 police and crime commissioners to set up the specialist units to tackle violent crime in their area.

Mark Burns-Williamson at the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, in Wakefield.

The model is sometimes described as a public health approach to crime, which has had success in reducing violence rates in Glasgow in the past decade.

Since it was set up earlier this year, the West Yorkshire unit has funded early intervention projects that aim to divert young people away from committing violent crime in the first place.

These include projects like Safer Leeds: Premier League Kicks, which uses football as well as group and one to one mentoring to promote positive wellbeing and strengthen communities.

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire PCC and National Association of Police and Crime Commissioners Serious Violence lead, said: "Serious violence and knife crime has affected many of our town and cities across West Yorkshire and that's why this investment is an important step in the right direction to enable us to bring multiple agencies together to help cut violence with early intervention, prevention and education programmes and measures.

"We are committed to tackling the root causes of violent crime and will continue to work closely with our partners, including the police, local authorities, NHS, public health, voluntary sector, prisons, probation and education amongst others, to establish and embed a sustainable long-term approach to tackling violent crime and its underlying causes."

Earlier in the year, Mr Burns-Willamson welcomed the initial funding, but added: "Whilst this investment is welcome, reducing violence is a long-term challenge requiring sustained resources and partnership working over a number of years to make a lasting impact."

West Yorkshire Police recorded a total of 102,172 cases of violence against the person in 2018 - the highest number since records began in 2007.

Meanwhile, the number of serious crimes involving knives or other sharp objects is also at the highest level for any single year since 2011.

The South Yorkshire PCC will be receiving £1.6m.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “I will not tolerate the criminals who seek to draw our young people into a life of violence.

“We are delivering on the people’s priorities by recruiting 20,000 new police officers and introducing tougher sentences to keep offenders behind bars for longer, but agencies must also work together to tackle this issue head on.

“These units are playing a vital role in diverting young people away from crime – and the funding we are announcing today will allow them to continue this important work.”