Communities will be ’empowered’ to offer solutions to tackling violent crime and serious violence

Date published: 03 July 2020

Greater Manchester communities blighted by knife crime and serious violence will be given a greater say on what can be done to prevent incidents happening.

A serious violence action plan will build on the work of a violence reduction unit (VRU) that has helped police seize 1,732 weapons from the streets in the last year.

The unit comprising police officers, health and education officials and community workers was set up after knife crime nearly doubled in Greater Manchester between 2015 and 2018.

Since then the number of hospital admissions for knife-related injuries has fallen by 16 per cent, while 941 more people have been arrested for knife offences compared to last year.

Greater Manchester Police, with the help of the VRU, has recovered over a thousand knives from sweeps of public stashes, amnesty bin collections and intercepted packages.

While enforcement remains a key party of addressing the issue, the new plan announced by the Greater Manchester combined authority will focus on early intervention, education and prevention.

The plan will involve £500,000 being spent on piloting community-led approaches to tackling violent crime in six areas across Manchester, Salford, Tameside, Oldham, Bury and Bolton.

A further £4.5 million will be shared amongst the community safety partnerships working in each of the Greater Manchester boroughs to develop other schemes.

Youth justice services will also receive extra funding for violence desistance and prevention programmes.

The joint youth justice service for Rochdale and Bury was rated ‘Good’ in March following a routine inspection by the HM Inspectorate of Probation. The youth justice service is made up of staff employed by the council’s children's social care service, Probation Service, police, the education service and health partners,

Councillor Janet Emsley, cabinet member for neighbourhoods, community and culture at Rochdale Council said: “As part of the Rochdale Safer Communities Partnership, organisations across our borough work together to help protect and strengthen our community. Tackling serious crime is an integral and essential aspect of our approach in making the borough a safer place for all residents.

"This additional funding will allow us to enhance our local offer enabling us to deliver targeted interventions as part of our proactive and preventative approach to tackling serious crime in our borough.”

More than 3,000 visits have already been paid to schools and youth groups across Greater Manchester to try and educate and inform them about the risks of carrying a weapon or getting involved in violent crime.

Knife offences in schools rose from 61 to 127 between 2015 and 2018, with almost a quarter of all victims and offenders being teenage boys and men aged 15 to 19.

Mayor Andy Burnham has stood by his promise to reinstate school-based officers where they are needed as part of a wider pledge to have named police and community support officers in every ward in Greater Manchester.

He said: “Enforcement can only take you so far and that isn’t what is at the heart of this plan.

“It’s about building trust and working with people, rather than doing to people.

“If a community makes a call for something that it wants, it’s going to be all about how we can deliver and respond quickly.

“It’s not a token gesture, this is about saying communities hold the information that [GMP] needs and they hold the solutions that will actually enable them to tackle serious violence.”

Niall Griffiths, Local Democracy Reporter

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