Police report recommends focus on crime prevention

Following its successful collaboration with Violence Reduction Units in both South Yorkshire and Merseyside, City Hearts welcomes the findings of a new report that analyses policing in the UK, and that has called for more focus on the prevention of crime, rather than just dealing with its aftermath.

The report – A NEW MODE OF PROTECTION: Redesigning policing and public safety for the 21st century, was overseen by a board of senior police officers, academics, and politicians, who recommended that a new Crime Prevention Agency be created in the UK, which would work to reduce crime rates by stopping them from happening in the first place.

Based on the recommendation of the report, The Crime Prevention Agency would deliver a Crime Prevention Strategy, enforce crime prevention duties, give crime prevention advice, and identify emerging threats.

The police cannot tackle the range and volume of the public safety challenges we face on their own. We need to do much more to prevent crime and harm from happening in the first place. We need a public safety system as well as a criminal justice system. A public safety system must be anchored around a new Crime Prevention Agency. (Report quote)

The report also recommended an increase in the delivery of violence reduction schemes around the country, such as the ones delivered by City Hearts.

City Hearts currently works with South Yorkshire Police to deliver our ‘Plan B’ programme, which works with male and female offenders in Rotherham, Sheffield, Doncaster, and Barnsley. We also work with Merseyside Police to deliver the Merseyside Deferred Prosecution Scheme, which offers some first time offenders the chance to engage with key-workers in order to have their prosecution deferred.

The aim of violence reduction schemes is to reduce re-offending by engaging with people at the point of arrest. Key-workers or Custody Navigators, are assigned to an individual, and will work with them on a holistic basis in order to try and address the issues that led them to offend in the first place. Amongst other things, they help them access housing, education, drug or alcohol rehabilitation, counselling, benefits etc, in the hope of setting them on the path to a crime free life.

The government should widen the remit of the Violence Reduction Units to cover a wide range of local crime types….. They should focus on crime types where prevention activity is best designed across a wider geographic area, such as modern slavery and county lines/serious violence….. Our argument is that the state spends too little on that kind of direct, strategically organised preventative work.  (Report quote)

Stuart Otten, who runs City Hearts’ Crime Free Futures Department, is a big believer in offering people the chance to turn their lives around, and preventing, rather than just punishing crime.

“Violence Reduction Units allow organisations to focus on local priorities and problems, rather than just following the Whitehall agenda,” he said. “Different areas have different issues, and need different solutions.

“The violence reduction schemes help people avoid further prosecution and potential criminality by addressing some of the underlying issues that led to behaviours that saw them arrested in the first place. We offer support around things like previous trauma, homelessness, poverty, ill health, difficult relationships, and unemployment, amongst other things. We help turn people’s lives around.”

A commitment to crime prevention is certainly not incompatible with the punishment of individual offenders but there are tensions between the pursuit of justice and the demands of prevention. It is now widely accepted that for lower-level criminal offences, certainly first-time offences by children and young people, it is better to divert the offender to a social intervention than to see them charged with an offence which may suck them into a lifetime of interactions with the criminal justice system. The focus in such cases is on preventing re-occurrence rather than on holding the individual to account. (Report quote)

Find out more about our Violence Reduction Schemes here: https://cityhearts.global/violence-reduction