Serious violence in our communities needs urgent solution - PCC Barry Coppinger
Chief Constables and PCCs across the country have recognised that we urgently need a solution to reduce the impact serious violence has on our communities.
The alleged murder of Michael Phillip and alleged recent stabbing on Raby Road remind us that while police believe both of these incidents were targeted, serious violence remains a challenge that police continue to face here in Cleveland.
At community meetings in Jesmond and Greatham this month, I’ve heard from residents first-hand about the impact witnessing serious crime can have on a community. It is never easy to hear that residents are worried or scared about crime in their neighbourhood, but as PCC I have the opportunity to do something about it.
While it is important to recognise the importance of police enforcement, we would be wrong to think we can arrest our way out of this situation. Tackling violence requires us to break down the social and cultural cycles that tempt people into crime and make them unable to leave.
In autumn last year, the Government established the £22m Early Intervention Youth Fund.
My office, in partnership with the local authorities and youth offending services, was successful in winning £546,000 from this fund, with a bid focused on four key principles: prevention, early intervention, targeted intervention and diversion.
We have recruited a Tees Youth Intervention and Prevention Co-ordinator to work with partners to develop a Cleveland-wide Serious Violence Strategy, to embed best practice and build longevity into the project.
Young people must be at the very heart of our approach. We will invest in training for professionals from key agencies to ensure they have a greater understanding of how Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) impact on the behaviour of young people and can lead to serious violence.
First time offenders aged 18-24 will have the opportunity to avoid a criminal record with a deferred prosecution scheme. For those young offenders already in the system, they will have enhanced access to additional support to help them rebuild broken relationships with family and friends.
This Home Office funding has also allowed us to double our investment in youth outreach in Hartlepool – equating to £88,750 over the next 18 months. This money will be invested in services that will deter young people from crime in the most at-risk areas in the town.
Only this week, the Chief Constable and I have met with senior leaders within Hartlepool Council to discuss how we can work together on this issue and others affecting the town.
It’s only by investing in services to educate and deter the next generation that we stand a chance of breaking the cycle of serious violence. No one agency can do it alone – I pledge to work with services across the county to support our young people to make the right choices.