West Midlands Police launch Project Guardian to reduce violent crime
West Midlands Police has launched a new project to reduce violent crime in the region after receiving a multi-million pound grant.
Last month the force was given £7 million by the Home Office to help tackle knife crime and youth violence.
Now, Project Guardian has been set up to reduce serious violence, with a focus on reducing knife crime in young people.
The majority of the cash will be used in prevention and enforcement and will fund an initial 163,400 policing hours during the first year.
It will also bring in 75 new police staff investigators on one-year contracts, allowing neighbourhood teams to focus more on how to work with communities and prevent violence in young people.
A pot of £100,000 will be made available for a Guardian Opportunities Fund, helping young people improve their own communities, while nearly £1.5 million will be used for a wide range of diversion, mediation, support and mentoring projects for young people.
A convoy of 15 extra police cars will be brought in alongside new knife wands.
Chief Constable Dave Thompson said: "The project is focused on how to build extra capacity within the force dedicated to combatting youth violence, whether that’s by more arrests, better management of offenders, education and diversion for young people or by building the best case files that we can.
"As a force we cannot prevent youth violence alone.
"We will be working with partners and other stakeholders to make the most of our combined skills in reducing violence among young people in the long term as well as the short term."
The force’s #lifeorknife campaign is continuing and expanding, focussing on getting young people and their parents to talk about knives by using real victims and offenders.
Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson added: "I have been successful in obtaining £7.6 million of short term funding from the Home Office.
"I will make sure that money is spent to reduce violent crime and keep our communities safe.
"I am also focused on ensuring the government put in place the long term funding to continue to make a real difference.
"We will be using the money to increase our capacity to prevent crime and to react to violent crimes as they occur. In particular 75 new police staff investigators will help to free up local teams to provide pro-active neighbourhood policing.
"Youth violence is not an issue that will be solved by enforcement alone. We will need the support of other agencies and communities to tackle this issue together. It is also why we are investing in projects to divert young people away from violence and to break the cycle of crime.
"Earlier this year I declared knife crime to be a national emergency. Project Guardian is a vital part of West Midlands Police’s response to that emergency."