After a sustained campaign, PCC Steve Turner has secured funding to establish Cleveland’s first unit dedicated to reducing levels of violent crime.
The Home Office has confirmed that the Commissioner will receive a budget of £3.5m over the next three years to establish a team to develop long-term strategies to prevent serious violence.
Despite having the second highest rate of violent crime in country, Cleveland has not received any violence reduction funding from government to date.
Last year Steve hosted visits with senior political figures including Home Secretary Priti Patel and Policing Minister Kit Malthouse, in which the PCC raised his concerns at the area’s lack of funding and senior officers from Cleveland Police highlighted the operational impact of increasing levels of violent crime.
Steve said: “It’s amazing news that we have secured funding that will address such a long-standing and serious issue for the area. I know my team and Cleveland Police has been calling for this funding for years and it comes not a moment too soon.
“There are still too many people in Cleveland who have their lives touched by serious violence, whether through being a victim themselves or by losing a loved one to violent crime.
“This isn’t a quick fix. It could take years to reverse the trends we’re currently seeing, but with funding secured until at least April 2025 we have a real chance to turn things around.”
The unit will take a joined-up, preventative approach to tackling serious violence, with the Commissioner’s office taking a leading role in bringing together local organisations such as the police, public health teams and local hospital trusts.
In addition to the £3.5m investment for a violence reduction unit, Cleveland will also receive £1.4m for increased police enforcement over the same three year period.
Cleveland Police will be equipped with an additional £470,405 a year in Home Office ‘Grip’ funding.
Steve continued: “The VRU will use early intervention to get upstream of violence, addressing the issues that cause people to commit violent crime at their source and supporting young people to make positive choices.”
“However it’s important that Cleveland Police have the opportunity to develop their policing response to violent crime, through operations that aim to target individuals who cause serious violence in our communities.”
Acting Chief Constable Helen McMillan said: “I’m delighted that this funding is being made available to the Cleveland area for the benefit of local people and future generations.
“Having dealt with a number of serious incidents involving knives and weapons during my police career, and speaking to victims and their families, I know how much violent crime can devastate lives.
“Our officers and staff on the frontline and in our teams are doing all they can to bring perpetrators to justice and reduce incidents, however there needs to be a preventative approach for the long term. If we work together as agencies to get to the heart of the problem we can guide young children and adults away from a life of violence.”
Consultant Vascular Surgeon, Barney Green, said: “On behalf of South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, I am absolutely thrilled that the Home Office has recognised the problem we have in our region with serious violence and have provided the much-needed financial support to fund a Violence Reduction Unit in Cleveland.
“The VRU will be able to bring together specialists from all walks of life to help understand why violence happens and how we can take action to prevent it both now and in the future. “There is no doubt that the collaborative work of the VRU will have a positive impact in our area and we look forward to offering our support and expertise in whatever capacity necessary to help prevent violence in our communities.”