Labour to expand Violence Reduction Units in bid to tackle serious crime

26 November 2019, 22:31

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott speaks at the launch of the Labour Race and Faith Manifesto
Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott speaks at the launch of the Labour Race and Faith Manifesto. Picture: Getty

By Megan White

Labour has pledged to expand 18 Violence Reduction Units in a bid to tackle violent crime in the worst affected areas.

The teams bring together different organisations - including the police, local government, health and community leaders - to tackle violent crime by understanding its root causes.

The Labour Party has promised to add an average of 20 additional officers to each unit in police forces tackling the highest rates of gang-related violent crime.

They said the expansion plans will work alongside investment to tackle reoffending rates, with pilot innovations supported by a £20 million annual Criminal Justice Innovation Fund.

It will allow police and crime commissioners and local criminal justice boards to develop and trial the best practice ways of reducing reoffending.

Police forces with VRUs include the Metropolitan Police, West Midlands, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Northumbria, Thames Valley, Lancashire and Essex.

Speaking ahead of an event with anti-knife crime campaigners in Hackney, shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: "Tory cuts to the police have made our communities less safe.

"You can't have safety and security on the cheap and you can't believe a word that Boris Johnson says on policing.

"Labour will fully resource our police forces after Tory cuts and our focus on Violence Reduction Units will make a public health approach to tackling crime a reality."

Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon said: "Under the Tories, reoffending rates are far too high, meaning more victims of crimes and less safe communities.

"Labour will prioritise reducing the number of victims of crime and tackling the huge social and economic costs of offending.

"Our Criminal Justice Innovation Fund will help local experts invest in schemes that work best to tackle reoffending in their areas."

The average of 20 additional officers in each VRU would be drawn from within Labour's existing commitment to boost police numbers.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "(Jeremy) Corbyn's Labour talk about tackling violent crime is pure irony - they oppose giving our police the powers they need to keep us safe and would leave violent criminals on our streets.

"Labour's plans for more police officers are completely undeliverable.

"Corbyn's Labour are consistently soft on crime and would lead to an increase in violence rather than a reduction as they would restrict stop and search, scrap short sentences and decriminalise drugs.”