Organisations from across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent came together to celebrate the partnership work underway across the region to reduce violence, and other harms associated with it, at the first ever Violence Reduction Alliance (VRA) Conference.
The VRA was established a year ago to deliver the local Violence Strategy – a blend of enforcement, prevention and education initiatives to change attitudes and behaviours.
The multi-agency partnership, which includes the public and private sectors, charities and community groups, aims to reduce violence using an approach which focuses on prevention and early identification.
Conference attendees heard from various speakers including Kit Malthouse, Minister for Crime, Policing and Probation, who provided a pre-recorded briefing; parents and carers affected by violent crime; and a range of partners including Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Staffordshire County Council and Staffordshire Police.
As well as sharing work currently underway, the conference also provided an opportunity to launch a number of new initiatives delivered as part of successful bids to the Home Office for Safer Streets Round Three and the Safety of Women at Night, which saw Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent benefiting from approximately £865,000 investment.
A voluntary Safer Places for Women & Girls Charter was launched at the conference, which has so far seen 24 businesses and organisations pledging to take practical steps to support the safety of women and girls in public places, including:
- Creating a safer environment to reduce the risk of crime
- Developing their staff’s understanding, skills and confidence to identify and respond to vulnerability
- Providing a mechanism which enables staff, and the public, to report unacceptable behaviour while at work or using their services.
Staffordshire Commissioner for Police, Fire & Rescue and Crime, Ben Adams opened the conference, alongside Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Councillor Abi Brown. He said:
“The government’s Serious Violence Duty requires local agencies to work together to reduce violent crime and address its root causes – in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, the work of the Violence Reduction Alliance has already put us ahead of that national duty.
“Overall crime rates in Staffordshire are well below the regional and national average, but there is still more to be done. It’s vital that we continue our work to not only reduce violence, but to ensure that people feel safer in our towns and cities too.
This involves a wide range of activities designed to keep people away from violent crime and make our streets safer for everyone.”
Staffordshire Police’s Chief Constable Chris Noble, who compered the conference, said:
“We are committed to tackling violence and its many forms and our work with partners ensures we are able to introduce more preventative measures, identifying patterns and behaviours so we can effectively safeguard victims, or potential victims, and pursue offenders at the earliest opportunity.
“We too want everybody to feel safe and while Staffordshire remains a safe place to live and work, I don’t underestimate the impact violence and crime can have on communities. Our partnership arrangements ensure we are focused on learning and adapting how we police so the best outcomes can be achieved.”