Following last month’s elections for the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) I have been delighted to welcome our new PCC, Clare Moody.

Clare has expressed a particular interest in and commitment to the prevention and reduction of violent crime, with a particular focus on knife crime and Male Violence Against Women and Girls.

Clare and I met virtually during knife crime awareness week to discuss the Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP) and positive prevention work that is happening across the county. You can watch this informal meeting by clicking here.

Clare has been clear that she wants to listen to communities, to understand what they see as the challenges and the solutions to knife crime and to work alongside them and that work has already started.  On Friday 7th June , I joined Clare on her first serious violence focused Engagement Day as PCC. This was held in Bristol and included a meeting with the new Bristol City Council leader, Tony Dyer, a meeting with Empire Fighting Chance, and three separate round tables to hear from community representatives and service providers.

These meetings were an opportunity for Clare to learn more about the challenges faced by the Bristol partners and community members when  dealing with young people and addressing serious violence. The conversations held will help to inform Clare as she develops her Police and Crime Plan and also inform my focus as the Director for ASVRP.

In my last blog, and across our social media channels in May we highlighted the wide range of work being carried out in North Somerset, led by their local VRP.  This month – we have been focusing on the work of the Bristol VRP, which includes Safer Options, the name given to the collaborative multiple agency partnership, who coordinate a whole system response to prevent serious violence and exploitation. They work together to address all forms of extrafamilial harm, including Serious Youth Violence (SYV), Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE), and Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE).

Across 2023/24, the Bristol VRP reached over 1,620 young people (aged under 24 years), 420 individuals (aged 25 years +) and over 510 professionals. Through the ten different local interventions they supported, which included:

  • Detached and in-reach youth work across the city, with a focus on identified “hot spot “areas and locations. Also included summer holiday “pop-up” youth clubs.
  • Education inclusion workers embedded in six secondary schools, providing enhanced pastoral care and preventative interventions in the school environment for young people at risk of exploitation.
  • Parent Support Groups in each locality, led by a parent. Providing advice, guidance, and peer support for parents/carers of children affected by exploitation.
  • Prevention workshops which raise awareness on SYV, exploitation, county lines, knife crime and negative influences of social media. The aim is to raise the attending young perron’s aspirations.

You can find out more about the work being carried out by the Bristol VRP at our dedicated webpage and by following our social media channels.

The work being carried out by the VRPs is valuable, but I am in no doubt that it is just one part of the picture.  Right across Avon and Somerset there are charities, community groups, social enterprises and dedicated individuals working to tackle violence and make a difference to the lives of young people.  In the past five months, since I joined the VRP I have had the honour of meeting some of them and have been continually struck by their passion, their dedication and by the impact they are having on the young people they work with.   Thank you – for all that you do.

Accessing funds to support such work can be challenging so I want to end by reminding people that the PCC is currently inviting bids for the first of this year’s round of the Commissioners Crime Prevention Fund until the end of this month.  There is a specific focus on tackling serious violence in the current funding round and provides a great opportunity for organisations to expand their work or start a new project.

The fund is being administered by Somerset Community Foundation (for Somerset) and Quartet Community Foundation (all other local authority areas) and is inviting bids for projects up to £10,000.  The bidding window closes on 28th June 2024, please click on the above links for full information on what the fund covers and how to apply.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.
Until next month

Director of the Avon and Somerset Violence Reduction Partnership

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