Police team set up to tackle violent crime marks two year anniversary
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A team set up to tackle violent crime in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland is marking its two-year anniversary this summer.
The Violence and Complex Crime Unit (VCCU), headed by Detective Superintendent Michelle Keen, was set up to provide an enhanced focus on preventing and tackling violent crime.
The team works closely with the Violence Reduction Network (VRN) and other partners and is supported by additional Government funding aimed at addressing violent crime.
Alongside partners in education, local authority, criminal justice and health sectors, evidence shows that this ‘public health’ approach will enable them to get to the root causes of criminal behaviour.
D/Supt Keen said: “We’re delighted to be marking our anniversary as we begin to see our collective work making a difference.
“There are many reasons why people commit crime, but by working together we aim to identify those most at risk of becoming involved in violent crime and divert young people towards more positive outcomes, away from criminality.”
The team is developing the force’s ability to recognise and respond to the impact of childhood trauma especially young people involved in serious violence.
This has ensured a greater level of focus on how it refers vulnerabilities to its partners and has enabled officers to identify adverse childhood experiences as well as opportunities for further support and intervention in those it deals with.
Operation Sceptre, a specific initiative to tackle knife crime, saw thousands of workshops take place in schools last November to highlight the risks associated with carrying and educate young people away from serious violence.
In the last 12 months educational sessions covering knife crime, county lines and substance misuse awareness have been delivered to 47,181 young people and professionals. The VCCU is now working with the VRN and other departments in force on new educational content going forward.
The team has also been instrumental in setting up a new website, Live Safe, for young people and their parents. The judgemental free space provides facts and support about staying safe as well as information on where to get help.
The multi-agency Integrated Offender Management unit (IOM) has been renewed to enhance the joined-up approach to those who cause the most harm to our communities, to reduce reoffending and support offenders away from committing further crime.
Another successful scheme up and running is the Violence Intervention Project which aims to support young people in police custody and builds upon the work being completed locally to develop the force’s custody offer for young people.
For those under 25 years who may have been involved in violence, the scheme sees support workers from health and social care charity, Turning Point, based in Leicester’s custody suite.
DCI Gav Drummond explained: “It means that at what could be a critical point in a young person’s life, they will have some extra one-to-one support, not just when they’re in custody, but beyond that too.
“They might need help finding a job or getting into education, support with substance misuse or general emotional health and wellbeing issues – it’s about identifying the underlying reasons for their behaviour and motivating them to change it for the better with that added help.”
An operation to target areas where there were high levels of serious violence has also taken place. Using ‘hot-spot’ policing and a problem-solving approach, officers engaged directly with communities to provide reassurance while targeting those individuals repeatedly involved in crime with the help of partners.
In addition, an overhaul of the drug intervention programme is taking shape, including the introduction of bespoke interventions for young people in relation to drug related offending.
This aims to focus the force’s efforts on those at risk of being involved in further crime and deal with its route causes.
D/Supt Keen said: “Whilst we are doing everything we can to recognise trauma and mitigate against future offending by addressing its route causes, we are also ensuring that those who commit serious crime and cause harm, are thoroughly investigated and are pursued through the judicial system. We see some great examples of this in the past two years where team work and thorough investigations have led to significant custodial sentences.”
She added: “This is only a snapshot of the work we are doing, but we’re proud of our progress and the differences it will make to outcomes in the long term.”
For more information on career opportunities with Leicestershire Police visit the force website.