The Government is determined to tackle serious violence, including knife crime, and has made £130m available this financial year (22/23) to do so. This includes £64m for our network of 20 Violence Reduction Units (VRUs) which bring together local partners to tackle the drivers of violence in their area, and £30m for our targeted police programme, Grip (previously Surge).
An independent evaluation of these programmes compared numbers of police-recorded violent offences taking place in the areas where these programmes operate with matched (control) areas. This found that in their first two years of operation, the programmes had together prevented an estimated 49,000 offences.
Over 10 years, we are also investing £200m in the Youth Endowment Fund (YEF), which funds interventions to divert children and young people away from exploitation and serious violence.
The previous Home Secretary visited Thames Valley Police and the VRU on 11 and 31 August. She met the Police and Crime Commissioner and other force leaders from the Southeast of England to discuss the positive work they are doing to reduce serious violence in their areas.
The Home Office has provided funding to 7 police forces and VRUs across the Southeast to combat serious violence, including knife crime. The areas that receive VRU funding are London, Thames Valley, Essex, Sussex, Hampshire, Kent, and Bedfordshire.
The Thames Valley VRU has received c £5.5m since 2019. This includes £1.16m in 2019/20, 2020/21 and 2021/22, and a further £2m in 2022/23. The VRU also received additional investment of £787,000 in 2021/22 to deliver two programmes that capitalise on key moments where learning is expected to be best heard in a young person’s life, such as on admission to A&E or in police custody.
The Metropolitan Police and the London VRU have received a combined c.£91.1m since 2019, including c.£20.7m for this financial year. The remaining six areas have received a combined c.£54.8m since 2019, including c.£13.9m for this financial year.
VRUs are also delivering youth interventions with their funding. Thames Valley’s VRU-funded ‘Hospital Navigators’ programme is delivered in 5 major A&Es across the area, including Slough, and provides immediate support to young people attending A&E because of a violent incident. This supported more than 470 vulnerable young people last year and has received additional funding from the YEF to evaluate its impact.
The South-eastern areas that receive VRU funding also receive funding for the Grip programme. Thames Valley Police have been allocated c.£4.8m over the last three years, including c.£798k for this financial year (2022/23). The Metropolitan Police have been allocated approximately £50.9m over the last three years, including £7.9m for this financial year (2022/23). The remaining six areas have received a combined c.£19.6m since 2019, including c.£3.6m in the current financial year of 2022/23.
The Government also encourages funding to be used on national weeks of action through Operation Sceptre. The latest phase of this operation took place between 16 and 22 May 2022. In the Thames Valley Police area, 13 knives were seized during enforcement action, with a further 97 being surrendered or seized during operational weapon sweeps.
In 2022/23, Thames Valley Police will receive up to £511.9m from Government Grants and precept. This is an increase of up to £28.6m compared to 2021/22. Through the Government’s Police Uplift Programme, Thames Valley Police has been allocated 609 additional officers. As of 30 June 2022, the force has recruited 442 of these.