The central government has issued a cash injection to Greater Manchester’s Violence Reduction Unit. In the Home Office’s latest step against knife crime, £35 million have been made available to Violence Reduction Units across the country. Of the £35 million, the Greater Manchester region will receive £3.3 million between 2020 and 2021. The Greater Manchester Violence Reduction Unit was formed in October 2019, in response to a number of high profile violent incidents, many of which involved the use of a knife. From the murder of Yousef Makki in March, to the Arndale Centre knife rampage in October, Manchester witnessed a marked spike in violent crimes involving a knife. Statistics from the period extending 2018-2019 show that hospital admissions resulting from stab wounds increased by a over a quarter, from 95 to 125.
The Greater Manchester Violence Reduction Unit follows on from the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) established by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. Established in 2018, the VRU unites health professionals, the police, government officials and community leaders to tackle the underlying causes of knife crime. The Manchester area VRU aims to:
- Work with schools to increase awareness of the consequences of violent crime
- Identify young people at risk of violent crime
- Develop a community-led approach to prevention and early intervention
- Increase targeted police activity on transport routes and in city centres
- Work with academics at the Manchester Metropolitan University to develop a clearer picture of the causes of violent crime
Funded from the Home Office’s Serious Violence Fund, the £3.3 million pledged to the Greater Manchester VRU comes alongside £4.8 million set aside to increase the police response to violent crime. This increased police response will include more patrols, weapon sweeps and enhanced enforcement activity across the city-region. Deputy Mayor of Manchester Bev Hughes summed up the VRU’s intent, “If we can turn young people away from violence at the earliest possible opportunity we can make a real difference to them and our communities.”