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Police and Crime Commissioner, (PCC), Jane Kennedy, was instrumental in securing funds and setting up Merseyside’s Violence Reduction Partnership (MVRP). Here, we ask the Commissioner to talk about her role, and her ambitions for Merseyside to adopt a public health approach in its efforts to reduce serious violence.

My name is Jane Kennedy and I’m privileged to be Merseyside’s inaugural Police and Crime Commissioner. I have served the public of Merseyside in this role since November 2012.

It is my job to act as the public’s voice on policing. By listening to you, I set the police and crime priorities for the region, providing the focus for the police force upon priorities set in agreement with the public. Then, I ensure Merseyside Police are delivering on them by holding the Chief Constable to account.

I am elected, alongside the City Region Mayor, to represent everyone on Merseyside and I am charged with responsibility for bringing all community safety partners together to address the issues affecting people in our area.

Tackling serious and organised crime has been one of my priorities since taking office and while Merseyside Police do a tremendous job stopping violence and bringing the perpetrators to justice, it is clear that reducing and preventing serious violence is a job the police cannot complete successfully alone.

Since 2018, I have been extremely interested in the approach used in Colombia, America and Canada, and closer to home in Scotland and Cardiff, that treats violence as a public health issue; viewing it as an infection that can be prevented by addressing the root causes.

It is an approach which requires a long-term commitment shared by many partners across different sectors – our local authorities, health, education, academia, culture, sports and the voluntary sector.

The sense that we were failing with enforcement alone was felt keenly here in Merseyside and I was pleased to host a number of seminars bringing experts from around the world to our region so we could learn about their successes and give professionals from all sectors a greater understanding of the public health approach.

There was widespread agreement that this was an approach that could work for our region; that we needed to be bolder, braver and more forward-thinking in our work to prevent serious violence. With this belief and shared commitment, and after securing £3.37m of central Government funding, I was delighted Merseyside was able to set up its own Violence Reduction Partnership in June 2019.

Fast forward 18 months and our highly-effective VRP is already yielding results – both large-scale and hyperlocal. From providing mentors to guide young people away from violence and a whole range of interventions to prevent young people being drawn into crime, to assisting educational establishments in supporting the most disadvantaged young people, to supporting some of the most vulnerable in our communities including sex workers, to working with offenders in prison to prevent re-offending, the VRP’s reach is comprehensive.  Such projects are all fully evaluated to assess their impact to ensure future resources can be directed into the most effective initiatives.

We know we can’t stop serious violence overnight. But by taking this long-term evidence-based public health approach, the VRP is tackling the underlying factors which lead to violent crime. And by doing so, they are driving lasting change to make everyone in our region safer.

Violent crime brings devastation and misery, blighting the lives of victims, families and whole communities. The best way to fight it is by preventing the crime in the first place. I’m proud to support the work of Merseyside’s VRP and I would encourage you to find out more about what they do, and get involved where you can, either through this website or by taking a look at this series of short film.

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