Success against violent crime when the scourge is treated ‘like a disease’

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings has been sharing information about the ‘public health’ approach to tackling violent crime – which sees the issue treated as a disease – at a Home Office sponsored event.

By Paul Whitehouse
Tuesday, 09 July, 2019, 09:19
Dr Alan Billings

South Yorkshire is one of several metropolitan areas which have been affected by a surge in violent crime, in particular knife attacks, in recent years and a number of different strategies are being used to tackle the problem. The aim of a regional event, organised between the Home Office and the PCC for West Yorkshire, was to bring together partners from across the public sector which will all be involved in work to minimise and prevent serious crime. Home Secretary Sajid Javid is considering introducing a legal duty for the authorities to take the ‘public health’ approach to answering the problem, alongside other work from central Government. Dr Billings recently visited Glasgow to look at the successful implementation of the city’s Serious Violence Reduction Unit more than ten years ago and the success the scheme has had in reducing the number of shootings and stabbings. “The public health approach treats violent crime as if it were a disease. The way to stop a disease spreading is by tacking the causes, not just dealing with those already infected. “It’s about prevention as much as cure. “The lesson of this approach is that if you are going to get to the roots of why people get caught up in violence and keep them away from it, you need a range of partners to help, not just the police. “If organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors work together to tackle such issues as domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse, the lack of youth activities and opportunities at an early stage, and provide the right level of support and advice for families, I believe many young people can be steered away from a life involving serious violence. “The government has recognised the need for funding to tackle these issues, though that funding will need to be sustained over future years. “We are determined to make a difference and see a serious reduction in violent crime across South Yorkshire.” The event, held at the Royal Armouries in Leeds, was organised by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) for West Yorkshire, in conjunction with the Home Office. As well as Dr Billings, speakers at the event included Chief Superintendent Una Jennings, from South Yorkshire Police, Nick Hunt, Head of the Serious Violence Unit at the Home Office, Mark Burns-Williamson, Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire and Victoria Atkins, Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability.

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