£7m funding allocated to Thames Valley Police to combat knife crime and other serious violence offences

The government has allocated £7 million to Thames Valley to combat serious violence offences including knife crime over the next three years.

By James Lowson
Friday, 1st April 2022, 12:17 pm

Each year, the Home Office announces the release of Serious Violence Fund resources across the country, this time the police force has been granted £7 million.

Policing Minister, Kit Malthouse, said: “To beat knife crime we must do two things: first we need assertive, high profile police enforcement and second, we need a coordinated approach to the long term solutions to violence in society, especially amongst the young.”

The money can be separated into two categories, £5 million will go towards the Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit (VRU).

Matthew Barber with Inspector Jade Hewitt and Sergeant Alex Penn

While the rest is put into a ‘grip fund’ working on strategy and targeting hotspots.

Thames Valley VRU involves not just the police, but local authorities, and people involved in health, education, and youth offending, plus other bodies.

Since the VRU was formed in 2019, Thames Valley Police report that it helped create a number of early intervention projects.

Under the VRU umbrella, diversion programmes in A&Es and custody, and mentorship programmes for vulnerable young people have been organised.

The body has created education materials for schools and developed ‘drug diversion’ programmes to help people overcome substance abuse.

Matthew Barber, the Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley, said: “Tackling serious violence and knife crime remains a priority for the police, our partners and the communities we serve.

“This is a hugely welcome announcement, not only as it commits an additional £7 million to support our efforts, but as it gives us budget confidence for the next three years.

"This allows us to plan and invest for the longer-term.”

Deputy Chief Constable Jason Hogg, Thames Valley Police, said: “Our officers and staff are committed to keeping all our communities in the Thames Valley safe and we continue to work closely with the Violence Reduction Unit to deliver the policing response to serious violence and knife crime.

“Serious violence, including knife crime, is down 12% year-to-date across the Thames Valley. We are having success, but we know we cannot let up.

“This latest funding further supports our work to intervene earlier and prevent violence from occurring in the first place, while my officers continue to bear down upon those small number of people who carry and use weapons, particularly young people.”

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While serious violence is down across the Thames Valley as a whole, Milton Keynes has reached a state of crisis with four people being killed with knives in just 13 weeks.

David Ashford, chairman of the Thames Valley Police Community Forum, called Milton Keynes ‘stab city’, referencing the recent spate of serious incidents.

Stan Gilmour, the Director of the Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit, said: “Since the Violence Reduction Unit was established three years ago we have made real progress. We are often seen as leading the way and as innovators with our initiatives.

“This comes from working across all partners, not just policing.

"Together, we take a public health approach, preventing violence like you would a disease, through earlier intervention and supporting young people to divert them away from crime.

“Three more years of funding will allow us to develop and embed programmes which can have real impact.”