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Helping the work of professionals and community groups who have contact with people who may be affected by violence

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Welcome to Somerset Violence Reduction Unit. This webpage offers you an insight into the work of the Somerset Violence Reduction Unit and gives access to resources that can help recognise, prevent and respond to concerns about violent crimes.

It is designed to help the work of professionals and community groups who have contact with people who may be affected by violence.

We are a multi-agency group of professionals working under the umbrella of Safer Somerset Partnership to set up a specialist Violence Reduction Unit (VRU).

About us

Between November 2015 and March 2019, homicide and violence with injury cost Avon and Somerset nearly £765 million. Although it is harder to quantify the costs to society through examples such as lost output or long-term physical and mental illness, they are likely to be far greater and longer lasting.

Homicide and Violence with Injury are prominent components of serious violence. However, the categorisation used in this document incorporates other types of offence. As such, we underestimate the total costs of serious violence. Tackling serious violence and breaking this destructive cycle is a priority for the Government and particularly so given recent increases in serious violence nationally. To facilitate effective, local multi-agency responses to serious violence, the Government has allocated £35 million to Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) in 18 local areas, including Avon and Somerset, to set up Violence Reduction Units.


VRU commissioned work 2021-22

Child exploitation support
Routes is a project run by Barnardos and focused on tackling Serious Youth Violence (SYV) and Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) across the county of Somerset. They deliver a relationship based, trauma informed, one to one intervention program to children, young people and young adults who are at risk of Serious Youth Violence (SYV) and Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE). More information about Routes.

Sports mentors
Somerset Activity and Sports Partnership Jump Start mentoring project is funded by the VRU to provide 30 sports mentors for young people identified through the Violence Reduction Unit as requiring early intervention.

The identified young people are given support to overcome barriers that might prevent them from participating in positive activities. They are supported to build resilience and self-esteem to help them engage in community activities as part of a healthier lifestyle.

A&E substance misuse project
Turning Point Services (part of Somerset Drug and Alcohol Service) run a project called Admit at weekends from Musgrove Park Hospital and Yeovil General Hospital A&E departments. Substance misuse support workers offer brief interventions for young people aged up to 25 attending hospital due to substance misuse, overdose, injury due to violence, concerns related to criminal exploitation and/or safeguarding concerns.

School inclusion programme
Somerset Violence Reduction Unit, Somerset Youth Offending Service and Education Safeguarding Services delivered a 6-month support boost to 8 priority schools across the county from September 2021 to March 2022 aimed at reducing the root causes of incidents and behaviour that leads to exclusion from school. Somerset Violence Reduction Unit received funding to deliver this work as part of a successful Avon and Somerset regional bid to the Home Office Youth Interventions Fund for a Teachable Moments programme.

Digital media workshops
Collaborate Digital use critical thinking, creativity and teamwork to facilitate active learning and deeper understanding of social issues for young people in schools, colleges and non-educational settings. They are providing workshops in 18 secondary schools across Somerset around Somerset VRU’s priority themes, healthy relationships, weapon possession; criminal exploitation and substance misuse (in relation to violence and exploitation). The project enables young people to produce their own media assets such as a podcast or video that can be shared on you tube or TikTok.

More information about Collaborate Digital

Prevention programme in primary schools
Stand Against Violence works in communities throughout the UK to give people a chance to live in a world without violence. They aim to prevent violence, its long-term consequences, and the grief of losing loved ones by delivering violence prevention workshops and talks with young people. They are providing 40 workshops across Somerset to Year 6 pupils. The workshops will focus on violence prevention and offer further training and resources to staff at participating primary schools.

For more information about Stand Against Violence please visit Stand Against Violence – In Loving Memory of Lloyd Fouracre, 1987-2005

Improving information sharing (Domestic Abuse)
In Somerset there is no central point of access that the police can use to share Domestic Abuse (DA) information or know who a person’s GP is. This presents challenges when sharing information, especially when people are at risk of serious harm. In July 2020 Somerset NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) were allocated NHS covid funding to look at a possible solution to this issue. A single point of access within health was trialled to enable the sharing of DA reports. This worked very effectively and saw an increase in the volume of referrals from GPs around DA. This new funding will replicate this solution and hope help find a more permanent solution.

Local resilience small grants fund
The VRU has allocated Avon and Somerset Police £6000 to provide small awards of money that can be given to local community initiatives which contribute to the violence reduction agenda.

The purpose of this funding is to improve access to community led solutions and provide the VRU with a broader insight into hyperlocal activity. The VRU Police Community Support Officers (PCSO) in each district of Somerset, who have local knowledge and experience in implementing violence reduction solutions, will identify groups who can benefit from this fund.

Youth diversionary programme
New Bright Outlook is a youth diversionary programme aimed at young people who are on the verge of engaging in criminal activity and on the Police and Partner agencies radar, or who are already involved in low level criminality and anti-social behaviour.

The programme offers day sessions where young people can visit the police cells, speak to reformed offenders, learn more about the impact of choices and consequence and gain practical skills, such as first aid.


County Lines: Somerset communities were urged to know the signs of ‘County Lines’ in a bid to stop illegal drug related criminal activity operating in their area.

A new campaign was launched by the Safer Somerset Partnership in September 2020 that set out what County Lines are, the signs to look out for and how to contact Crimestoppers if you believe County Lines are operating in your area. To know more about the County Lines and the campaign, please visit our County Lines page.

Healthy Teenage Relationships: Young people experience the highest rates of domestic abuse of any age group. Regardless of whether they can access adult support, evidence suggests that young people need a different response to adults. Young people experience a complex transition from childhood to adulthood, which impacts on behaviour and decision making. It may impact on the way that they respond to the abuse as well as the way that they engage with services. As a result, young people who experience domestic abuse do so at a particularly vulnerable point in their lives.

Please visit the Healthy Teenage Relationship page on Somerset Survivors – it provides information on healthy teenage relationships, warning signs of abuse to look out for and the kind of help and assistance available.

Knife Crime: Knife crime is crime involving a knife. It is a crime to threaten someone with a knife or carry a knife as a weapon in a robbery or burglary. Police can search you if they think you are carrying a knife. Some knives are offensive weapons and are banned in public places. A knife crime campaign was launched in September 2021 with a bid to raise awareness about the dangers of carrying a knife and report knife crime incidents across the county. To know more about knife crime and the campaign, please visit our Somerset and Knife Crime page.

Last reviewed: May 16, 2023 by Neil

Next review due: November 16, 2023

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