Sports Projects To Help Tackle Violent Crime In Merseyside
Updated: Mar 16, 2020
Earlier this year Merseyside Police secured £3.37m of government funding to establish a Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) to tackle rising levels of violent crime across the Merseyside region, and Healthy Stadia has been supporting the VRU in the roll-out of this new 'upstream' approach to tackling violent crime.
There has been a worrying increase in serious violence across the country over the last decade. In Merseyside there were 4 murders, 86 serious woundings and 140 knife crimes in the first half of the year alone (to 1/6/19). In response to this rise, Merseyside Police has secured £3.37m of funding from the Home Office's Serious Violence Fund to set up the region's first Violence Reduction Unit (VRU). A priority area for the new VRU will be to prevent children and young people from being exposed to criminal activities in the first instance.
After running a successful conference on the sports sector and violent youth crime at Everton Football Club in mid-October, Healthy Stadia has been appointed by the VRU to commission a range of sport and physical activity projects that are taking a preventative 'public health' approach to tackling violent crime in the region.
With an initial submission of 42 applications from across the Merseyside sports sector, Healthy Stadia has commissioned 15 new projects that are engaging young people under the age of 25 years old that are using both targeted (e.g. female only) and universal approaches to engagement. Priority has been given to projects applying from 'hot spot' areas that correspond to police data on the incidence of youth crime, many of which have the added burden of higher levels of social and health inequalities.
A wide range of sports-based projects are now being used in these 'hot spot' areas as diversionary and educational tools to change attitudes and behaviours related to violent crime and knife crime, whilst many of these projects are also addressing themes such as gang culture, drug and alcohol use, discrimination, inclusivity and mental health.