Police poised for cash windfall to help fight causes of violent crime in South Yorkshire

An extra £1.6m could be pumped into the fight against violent crime in South Yorkshire over the next few months if a bid now being considered by the Government is successful.

By Paul Whitehouse Local Democracy Reporter
Thursday, 11 July, 2019, 11:39

The money would have to be used for work on a ‘violence reduction unit’, a body which would have to involve a range of public bodies able to make a contribution to the fight against violent crime, which involves the knife attacks that have become the focus of public attention recently.

If awarded, the Government would expect the money to be spent by March next year – giving a short window of opportunity to set up a project which could have benefits lasting beyond that date.

Other bodies including care commission groups, youth offending teams and local authorities have all been signed up as partners to the bid, which is now awaiting a decision from ministers.

Nationally, £35m has been made available and that has been provisionally allocated among 18 police forces based on calculations made from analysing statistics for hospital admissions involving victims of violent crime.

South Yorkshire’s situation was deemed to justify an award of £1.6m from that total, but the Government still needs to satisfy itself that the money will be spent wisely before releasing it.

The bid was put together through Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings and is the latest extra funding the Government has decided to pump into tackling violence.

South Yorkshire Police already has cash which is being used for a period of intensive operations against violent criminals, so-called ‘surge’ tactics aimed at making offenders more likely to be caught by staging intensive operations when information emerges on the activities of known suspects.

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However, Dr Billings has questioned the wisdom of the Government making short term cash injections into problem areas and said: “It has to be a partnership. There are all sorts of conditions.

“All these people had to be signatories to the bid, that has been successfully done.

“Clearly, you don’t want to turn down money but it would be helpful if the Government understood the consequences of doing these things.

“They want to see work done in these areas to bring down serious violence. By definition, it has to be done over a number of years.

“Seeing ways where the money can be spent sensibly and what can be sustainable is the big challenge.

“In Sheffield quite a lot of work has been done. The Government is anxious to take the ‘public health’ approach, tackling the root causes. That approach has been used in South Yorkshire for a year or two.

“We have to find ways of making the new money gel and fit with what is already there on the ground and it is quite a challenging period,” he said.