Essex Violence & Vulnerability Unit newsletter

Issue 1 – 29th September 2020

Roger Hirst,Police, Fire and
Crime Commissioner for Essex

Violence has no place in our society, and as a society our role must be to tackle violence and the root causes of violence and to work with the public and partners to create the safe and secure communities we all want and that allow all of us to flourish and prosper.

Gangs that exploit vulnerable people and coerce them into a life of crime are preying on some of the people most in need in our society. While no agency can tackle this alone, in Essex we know that working together, through our Violence and Vulnerability Unit, can turn the tide against these gangs, protect those in need and help to ensure we all live prosperous and productive lives.

This newsletter from our Essex Violence and Vulnerability Unit will tell you more about what we are doing in the county, highlighting how with excellent partnership working, we have an opportunity to shape and influence how to best support young and vulnerable people who are being, or are at risk of beingexploited and involved in crime, through innovative projects, data led research and sharing intelligence and best practice.

Tackling gangs and serious violence and protecting children and vulnerable people from harm are key priorities in our Police and Crime Plan and are important to the people of Essex. Only by working together can we get on top of the issue and create better futures for our young and vulnerable people.

Detached Youth Workers start

We are really excited to announce the start of our Youth Detached & Outreach project funded by both the VVU and Active Essex. The project works with young people aged 10-14 in Basildon, Colchester, Southend, Tendring and Thurrock, and has been created by the Essex Council for Voluntary Youth Services (ECVYS).The project sees local grassroots organisations working within their communities to reach young peopleat risk of youth crime and gang affiliation. The partnership is the first of its kind and brings together Essex Boys and Girls Clubs, Bar’n’Bus, Southend YMCA, The Red Balloon Foundation, Essex YMCA, Home-Start Colchester and Teen Talk to focus on joint aims for detached work across the county but with a local focus.

This programme of work has received £60,000 from the Joint Violence & Vulnerability Budget. This is a partnership fund which includes funding from the Home Office (£1.1m), £500,000 from Essex County Council and £200,000 from the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.

The project is currently funded for six months and could be a real lifeline for young people that may not have had much contact with a trusted adult for over six months due to Coronavirus. Working together, ECVYS and the VVU are looking at a range of options, and other funding sources, to be able to extend the programme across the whole county.

For more information about the project please contact rachel@ecvys.org.uk.Rachel is the CEO of ECVYS and works alongside the VVU on a range of initiatives.

VRU evaluation published

In August the Home Office published an independent evaluationof the work of Violence Reduction Units (VRUs).The evaluation found that since being established,VRUs have made good progress, laying a foundation for an evidence-based, targeted response to serious violence.

The evaluation found that in their first year,the Units invested in 175 programmes designed to help young people at risk of being drawn into violent crime. They include prevention work in schools, communities, prisons, hospitals, pupil referral units and police custody suites, which reached over 100,000 individuals across different risk groups.

Of these 100,000 individuals, more than 51,000 were identified as potentially high-risk, or suspected to be involved in criminal and violent activity. The remaining young people may live or attend school in an area with high levels of deprivation or crime and were targeted by interventions to increase awareness of the risks.

Evaluation showed that the VRUs all identified a common set of perceived key drivers of serious violence, these included adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), deprivation and austerity, which had manifested in a variety of ways that had made individuals more at risk of becoming involved in violent crime.

The findings will continue to influence our interventions and future work and we are working closely with the evaluation team, commissioned by the Home Office, on the next stage of the evaluation.

Home Secretary visit

Last month, Home Secretary Priti Patel visited Achievement Through Football and one of its projects in Basildon, where she chose to announce the new Vulnerable Children’s Charity Fund, with £2.9m distributed to VRUs to support charities working on violence prevention projects.

As one of the 18 VRU areas, Essex had the opportunity to apply to the Fund and was awarded £98,101. This is supporting 14 smaller charities providing critical frontline services for children and young people, to ensure they can meet increased demand as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as continuing their day-to-day activities.

The funding will allow them to continue to support vulnerable young people at risk of violence, adapting support services if necessary, for example by using remote working and technology.

Working jointly with the Essex Council for Voluntary Youth Services and the Essex Boys and Girls Club,we invited small charities across the county to apply for funds. The successful applicants were as follows, delivering a mixture of countywide or localised work: Bar’N’Bus; Changing Lives, Chelmsford 5th/9thScout Group; GEI (Girls Empowerment Initiative); London Bus Company; NOO YU; Outhouse East; Refugee Action –Colchester; SAFE Supporting Asperger Families in Essex; Waltham Abbey Youth 2000; Motivated Minds; Proximity Services; ATF (Achievement Through Football); Seabrooke Community Association.

Missing in Lockdown

The number of children reported as Missing reduced significantly during the UK’s lockdown response to the COVID 19 pandemic, but ECC’s Involvement Service found that young people who did go missing were more interested in engaging and communicating during this time.

106 missing chats were accepted during the period 21st March to 21st May 2020. This is more than three times the amount compared to the same period in 2019.

The Choices programme that supports young people identified as Missing and/or are vulnerable/at risk from criminal exploitation (CE) also continued its support through the pandemic by offering contact virtually through Zoom, telephone, text and video calls.

The team found that lockdown provided opportunities to develop different relationships with young people, with more time and capacity available to invest in building relationships and young people and families being more readily available. Parents also were more likely to be involved in missing chats with the number taken up by parents in relation to the number of missing episodes increasing.

The Choices programme has received £30,000 from the Joint Violence & Vulnerability Budget.

Get involved!

We are currently considering how to further develop and grow our existing “provider list.” This would be a place for organisations who work in the community on projects that support the work of the VVU, to register their interest(and possibly go through an eligibility process). We would then signpost them as potential providers.

This list may potentially be used to communicate any funding opportunities that we identify or otherwise arise.We are keen to reach as many eligible groups as possible, so watch this space for further details.

If you would like to find out more about any of the items in this newsletter,please get in touch katie.canning@essex.gov.uk. Follow us on Twitter @EssexVVU