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£2 million invested in reducing serious violence in Essex in 2020-2021

Projects across Essex, focused on reducing serious violence, benefited from over £2m of funding last year thanks to the work of the Violence and Vulnerability Partnership. A further £1.1 m of extra funding was also secured from the Home Office to fund additional activity by Essex Police, including targeted stop and search activity.

Details of these projects are outlined in the 2020-2021 Annual Report, published by the Essex Violence and Vulnerability Unit today (16 March 2021).

The report highlights that recorded incidents of serious violence in the county have fallen in the 12 months to Oct 2020 compared to the previous twelve months with a decrease from 1,327 to 1,306.This reduction, though small, provides a positive indication that Essex is seeing a longer-term reduction in serious violence.

Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex and Chair of the Violence and Vulnerability Board said:  “Violence in our communities affects us all; the vulnerable who are groomed into a life of crime, the families living without a loved one, the victims of drug driven crime and all of us in wider society who want to live free from the fear of violence.

“Over the last year we have increased our investment in prevention activities focussed on positive activities for young people, mentoring programmes and interventions at ‘reachable’ moments. – all delivered in partnership.

“No one agency can tackle this alone which is why by working together, through the Essex Violence and Vulnerability Partnership we can turn the tide against these gangs, protect the vulnerable and help to ensure we all live prosperous and productive lives.”

The activity funded by the partnership is designed to work with people vulnerable to being groomed into gangs, County lines and drug driven violence. The projects also target gang members and help them step away from a criminal lifestyle. Highlights from the year include:

•           £233,000 provided to 32 not for profit charities to deliver work direct to local communities, including sports clubs, youth clubs and wellbeing sessions. These projects supported over 1,349 vulnerable children and young people.

•           528 children and young people identified as at high risk of harm were supported at “reachable moments” in communities, hospitals and through direct youth worker involvement.

•           992 children under 14 years old were reached directly through voluntary sector youth work.

•           760 professionals have been trained to spot the signs of gang involvement and engage with those at risk.

•           200 professionals from partners across Essex have benefited from a deeper understanding of the causes of gang involvement and how their organisation can intervene effectively.

•           103,000 people reached through regular communications as well as countywide involvement in the “Merry Muletide” campaign.

The Partnership has also secured a total of £1,860,000 so far to use in 2021/22 to fund projects to reduce the risk of people being exploited by gangs. This funding is provided by the Home Office, the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex and Essex County Council.

The specific targeting of training and community outreach work means the Partnership has been able to reach those who are either directly impacted by gangs, drug violence and County Lines or is supporting those who can help those affected to break free from this lifestyle.

Working in partnership with Essex Police, the VVU has supported enforcement activity which has led to the dismantling of County Lines across Essex and resulted in the safeguarding of vulnerable individuals who have been exploited by the gangs that run the County Lines.