£3.4m unit to help tackle violence in West Midlands
West Midlands Police is to establish its first ever unit dedicated to tackling violent crime after landing more than £3 million in Government funding.
The Violence Reduction Unit will focus on preventing children and young people from being lured into gangs and criminal activity.
It will aim to bring together police, social services, health and education professionals in a 'public health approach' that bosses say will ensure the rising tide of violence is tackled by all.
The VRU will also bring in former crooks to mentor youngsters, offer job training to help improve employment prospects, and roll out violence mentoring in schools, while it will also supplement the scheme to place youth workers in A&E departments.
The Home Office funding of £3.37m has been awarded to the region as it faces its worst violent crime epidemic in years, with knife crime is up by 85 per cent since 2012 and gun crime up by a third.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, said: “For some years now we have been warning that more funding is needed to tackle rising levels of violent crime in our area.
“I have been calling for funding for a Violence Reduction Unit for some time. I am pleased that my campaign has now been successful.
“I will be using this money to ensure our young people aren’t caught up in a cycle of violence and have real alternative options and better life chances.
“I have worked closely with Public Health England, local authorities and communities on this bid and would like to place on record my thanks to them all.
"I look forward to continuing to work closely with health professionals and would also like to thank the region’s MPs and Councillors who have supported my bid.
“Whilst this funding is welcomed by all in the West Midlands the government needs to know that a real long term funding solution is still very much needed.”
The Government has stipulated that the cash needs to be spent by April 2020.
Last month it was announced that WMP is set to receive around £7.5m in Home Office cash to target violent crime as part of a series of short term funding pledges.