Today (Wednesday 11 March) saw the launch of a partnership between health, social and criminal justice organisations to end violence in Wales.
The Wales Violence Prevention Unit has been established by the Police & Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables in Wales, working with Public Health Wales and supported by targeted money from the Home Office.
Across Wales, violent and sexual offences account for 31% of crimes committed. The team of dedicated professionals will work with partners to prevent all violence in Wales by investigating the underlying causes of violence, evaluating the effectiveness of current violence prevention interventions and implementing new interventions that follow the evidence.
Jon Drake, Director, Wales Violence Prevention Unit, said: “We can prevent violence and the cost and misery it causes by bringing the right people from the right organisations together and sharing our knowledge and passion to help people and communities across Wales.
“Already, we are delivering and commissioning crucial work to end violence, including targeted work with offenders in Cardiff and Swansea and commissioning our delivery partners Media Academy Cardiff to work with young people and their families.”
Rt Hon Alun Michael, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales: As Police Leaders in Wales, the four Commissioners and the four Chief Constables have demonstrated the impact that can be achieved by effective partnership working. We are determined to focus on the big issue of serious violence – whether on the streets or in domestic settings - by addressing root causes through early intervention and prompt, positive action. Violent incidents cause long-term misery to those involved. They also put massive demand on policing, the Ambulance Service and the NHS generally, as well as on our courts and prisons. We have a simple choice: we either drive the agenda of prevention – a public health approach – or we end up pouring more and more resources into picking up the pieces when it’s too late. Frankly, that is what has happened in the past.
“Sadly we will always require a police response to some level of violence locally as well as threats like County Lines, organised crime and violent extremism
"But our ambition is to ‘change the weather’ instead of just putting up an umbrella.
“The Violence Prevention Unit provides a unique opportunity for Policing in Wales, Public Health Wales, Youth Offending Teams and Local Authorities – as well as schools, colleges and the voluntary sector - to build on the powerful ethos of co-operation which has been central to our approach here in South Wales. With the right approach and commitment we can stop people being drawn into crime and abusive behaviour in the first place and promote immediate action to divert those who have started offending.”
Jan Williams, Chair, Public Health Wales, said: “Violence is a public health issue. Living without the fear of violence is essential for health and wellbeing, not to mention the substantial amount violence costs to the NHS every year.
“We can prevent violence by working together, digging down to the root causes of violence and implementing interventions that evidence shows will work.”
Matt Jukes, Chief Constable of South Wales Police, said: “Prevention is at the heart of policing in Wales and we work closely with Public Health Wales and other partner to become more aware of adverse childhood experiences and develop a trauma informed workforce across policing and criminal justice
Officers work tirelessly to keep people and communities safe but we understand we cannot arrest our way to a zero-violence nation, so I am pleased to be working with the Wales Violence Prevention Unit on innovative and effective interventions to prevent violence.”
The Unit was officially launched at the first Wales Violence Prevention Conference, which brought together experts from across Wales for a day of learning, sharing and innovation to prevent violence.
The event showcased a number of interventions delivered, commissioned or supported by the VPU already taking place in Wales to prevent violence. Delegates had the opportunity to participate in workshops to help define their role in violence prevention and provide valuable input into the Wales Violence Prevention Unit response strategy.