What is Serious Violence

What is Serious Violence?

Serious Violence destroys lives.

It impacts upon those directly involved, their families and wider communities.

The Avon and Somerset Violence Reduction Partnership purpose and mission:

  • The Purpose is to create safer and more resilient communities for now and the generations to come, by reducing serious violent incidents across Avon and Somerset.
  • The mission is to work collaboratively with partners, to understand and address the root causes of violence in Avon and Somerset, with a focus on education, prevention and protection.

To support these, the VRP and its specified authorities under the Serious Violence Duty has reviewed and updated its definition of Serious Violence to:

  • Enable a clear, aligned agreement on our priority focus of what is identified as Serious Violence.
  • Develop common awareness of contextual factors and indicators.
  • Ensure the ability to flex and respond to emerging and changing need.

The priority focus for the VRP, details our standards across Avon and Somerset. Whilst striving for a common approach, the partnership recognises that at no point the problems faced by each LA will be the same, nor that their responses should be identical.

Specific needs will vary geographically across the Avon and Somerset, as well as new and developing issues emerging over time.

This means that the priority focus does not limit the VRPs, but enables a recognised alignment in our collective response to serious violence and allowing for local interpretation to build on this.

It must also be noted that the priority focus is supported by the Governments priorities, as set out in their Serious Violence Strategy as well as the supporting funding from the Home Office under the Violence Reduction Unit funding stream. 

The second part to the definition describes what we determine serious violence crimes to be, consequently reflecting our wider commitment to these issues. 

Finally, it must be recognised that there are many other societal and individual factors that influence the risk of serious violence, however we cannot reflect all of these within the definition. Such factors include Anti-Social Behaviour, Learning Difficulties and Disabilities and School Exclusion. We will commit to understanding these factors and making a difference where we can, as these contextual factors are a key part of tackling serious violence upstream. 

Our definition

The Avon and Somerset VRP embraces a priority focus on the prevention and reduction of public space violence for under 25s (children and young people); including homicide, attempted homicide, robbery, wounding, grievous bodily harm, knife and gun crime, alcohol and drug related violence and areas of criminality where serious violence or its threat is inherent, such as county lines and modern slavery.

We also recognize and commit to supporting a joined-up response to existing partnership work to tackle serious violence across the whole pathway and in the broadest sense, including domestic abuse, rape and serious sexual offences and violence against women and girls more generally.

What isn’t in the scope and why?

Serious Violence Duty holders concluded that radicalisation is out of scope for the Serous Violence definition. Whilst we recognise this as serious, particularly where the threat of terrorism is inherent, statutory partners already have an existing mandated responsibility under CONTEST to deliver the Prevent agenda, including Channel. This calls upon local authorities and partners to identify those vulnerable to the risk of radicalisation and to put support and diversion in place, so to prevent them being drawn into terrorism.

Why do we need a definition and what we use it for?

By agreeing to one definition, we have a common understanding of what serious violence is. This enables us to plan, develop and navigate the opportunities to tackle the issues together with our partners across the pathway.

Importantly, this will allow the VRP to have a consistent approach in what is being measured as serious violence, leading to a clearer view of the impact we are having.

After setting a definition there are a few stages to follow, so to ensure we are up to date in our knowledge and understanding of the issues and continually improving our responses to these needs. The below three steps describe how we will do this;

1. Analysis

Various data sets and tools will be built around the definition to understand trends and issues, helping us decide what needs to be in our plan to tackle serious violence. Each year we update our Strategic Needs Assessment, using police and partner data.

2. Action

Our actions to reduce serious violence will vary depending on the findings of our analysis.

However, whatever approach is used, at its core there will be four steps that will always be considered at each stage: 

  • Identify vulnerability
    Who is at risk?
  • Select appropriate support
    What can be done to help?
  • Evaluate approaches
    Did the support make a difference?
  • Develop and learn
    What can we learn from what did and didn’t work and how can we improve going forwards. 
3. Governance

We need to ensure that we have ways to hold us accountable to carry out any actions we have identified, and that we do this in a timely manner, check our progress and successful delivery. This is done by:

  • Agreeing who in the partnership will deliver these actions and who is accountable for their successful delivery.
  • Standardising practices created to help us prioritise our activity, monitor their progress and navigate challenges.
  • Ensuring that the community voice and co-production opportunity is part of our governance response.

These steps continue through an annual cycle, so as to ensure our definition is reflective of local need and therefore ensure we can make a difference.

Serious ViolenceDuty

The Serious Violence Duty was introduced as part of the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Act 2022. The Duty requires specified authorities (Police, Justice, Fire & Rescue, Health and Local Authorities) and relevant authorities (where identified) to prevent and reduce serious violence in their local area.

This Duty is supported by national guidance, finalised in December 2022, which balances prescriptive expectations with room for flexibility.

Click here to read more on the duty.

In preparation for the roll out of the Duty, the Home Office Commissioned Crest Advisory to work with Avon & Somerset to assess readiness to deliver the Duty.  The analysis suggested serious violence and the risk in Avon and Somerset is moderate. However, though there is a moderate prevalence of violence, associated risk factors are at high levels. Overall, the Readiness Assessment determined that Avon and Somerset is ‘Ready and Engaged’, which means Avon and Somerset has demonstrated our intent to change the local approach to serious violence and are in the process of mobilising a whole-system multi-agency approach.

The VRP is working to achieve the higher scale “Mature with Best Practice“, by demonstrating our partnerships maturity.