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Home Office funding secures future of Essex VVU: April 2022

The Essex Violence and Vulnerability Partnership was today awarded over £5 million from the Home Office to continue its fight against drug driven violence, county lines and knife crime.

This funding, distributed across the next three years, not only guarantees the continuation of the Violence and Vulnerability programme over this period but is a large increase on previous funding acknowledging the success of the work underway across Essex.

This funding has also been generously boosted for 2022 / 23 by contributions of £500k from Essex County Council and £600k from the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex as announced in their budgets in February.

Working together, the Partnership aligns activity to prevent violence and protect the vulnerable alongside strong, robust enforcement activity with the priorities of:
• Identifying and tackling organised crime gangs, County Lines and drug supply.
• Delivering a proactive, robust local enforcement programme in partnership with communities.
• Reducing the risk of young or vulnerable people being exploited by gangs and help those involved in gangs to break away.

The Partnership has developed a strategic approach that is delivering significant results in the fight against violent crime; this is informed by a strong evidence base and the lived experience of individuals and communities which underpin its public health approach to tackling violence and its root causes. The unique focus on vulnerability recognises that there are underlying factors that contribute to serious violence, and it is these factors the Partnership is responding to by addressing vulnerability , providing early interventions and targeted, tailored programmes.

Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex and Chair of the Violence and Vulnerability Partnership 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.

“This continued funding from the Home Office allows us to continue at pace, with the progress we have been making across the County to support young people and their families. The generous increase to funding is confirmation that what we are doing works and is making a real difference.”

The Essex Violence and Vulnerability Unit was set up in 2019 to tackle the growing threat of County Lines within Essex, since creation the Unit has:

• Worked with over 50 local charities and voluntary sector organisations to fund localised projects
• Given out £500,000 in funding to local groups
• Worked with more than 2,000 young people and children to better understand their experience of serious violence and what they would like to see in response to the issues which impact on them
• Delivered 5,000 hours of detached youth work across Essex
• Delivered training to a wide variety of professionals working with children and young people – helping them spot the signs of exploitation and identify those at risk
Worked with Essex Police to safeguard vulnerable individuals identified through operational police work
• Supported over 10,000 individuals through support, positive activities and intervention programmes over the last three years. This includes working with 1,200 individuals at risk of offending by delivering bespoke support packages to change and address behaviour

Mr Hirst continued: “I am extremely pleased that the Home Office recognises that the work we are doing is having positive impact.

“By working as a partnership, we have been able to put in place services to divert young people away from a life of crime, early intervention programmes to work with those in danger of exploitation, and positive activities for families and communities to build resilience, cohesion and mental health.”


Notes to Editor

The Essex Violence and Vulnerability Unit is a partnership between police, local councils, health, education, criminal justice agencies, faith groups, voluntary organisations, fire and rescue and the community sector. By working together through this multi-agency approach, resources are effectively targeted to reduce drug driven violence and bring about positive change for the future of Essex young people.

Violence Reduction Units are a pioneering initiative established in 18 areas of the country in 2019, that bring together local partners in policing, education and health, and local government, to share information in order to identify vulnerable children and adults at risk, and help steer them away from a life of crime and violence.

The Government has today published an evaluation of the first 18 months’ performance of its Violence Reduction Units, which shows that they are starting to have a positive impact reducing violent crime.

Today’s announcement by the Home Office also included funding for the Grip programme. The Grip programme, or ‘hotspot policing’, involves police forces operating regular, intensive, high-visibility police foot patrols for short periods of time within specific areas where data analysis shows there is a risk of serious violence. When first piloted in Southend-on-Sea in 2020, the tactic resulted in a 73% drop in violent crime and 31% fall in street crime in the 20 highest crime hot spots on days when patrols visited, compared with days they did not.