A UNIT formed to fight violent crime has been given enough cash to continue until next year.
South Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner, Dr Alan Billings (pictured), has been given £1.6 million to continue the work of the South Yorkshire Violence Redcucion Unit for the rest of the financial year.
The Home Office chose to give South Yorkshire a slice of its £35m fund because it is one of 18 hotspots for violent offending, such as knife crime.
The unit, which was launched in September, is based at Shepcote Lane Police Station in Sheffield and takes a “public health” approach to violence by tackling its causes rather than dealing with crimes after they have been committed.
The work is overseen by a Violence Reduction Executive Board, which is chaired by Dr Billings and features South Yorkshire Police’s Chief Constable Stephen Watson, representatives from local councils, health and eduction services, probation and youth offending teams, faiths and the voluntary sector.
The Home Office has said that it expects the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit to lead and co-ordinate the local response to serious violence.
Dr Billings said the cash meant that the unit could continue its work until March.
“Since we launched the Violence Reduction Fund in December we have been able to fund more than 20 projects aimed at drawing young people away from violence or helping others to break out of the cycle of crime and violence they may have fallen into,” he said.
“We shall be able to continue some of these projects and add others between now and the end of March.
“I am quite clear that in South Yorkshire we must do two things.
“We must come down hard on those who resort to violence and the gangs where violence often breeds.
“But we must also understand the reasons why people are drawn to violence in the first place and find ways of steering them away from it.”
Rachel Staniforth, joint head of the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit, said the funding would allow the unit to work on the priorities it had identified since September.