The largest ever research project of its kind in Gloucestershire has explored the issue of violent crime within the county. Using a public health approach, the research concludes that despite a lower-than-average rate of violent crime, there are improvements to be made in local provision that could help to prevent violence.
The extensive research project was commissioned and funded by Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Martin Surl as part of his commitment to enhance public safety through the multi-agency body, Safer Gloucestershire. The research was conducted using a public health approach by violence prevention coordinator, Sophie Jarrett.
In Gloucestershire, this research has found that violent crime accounts for 27 per cent of all crime in the county. This is lower than average when compared to similarly-sized counties such as Wiltshire, West Mercia and Cambridgeshire. The report acknowledges that violent crime covers a broad range of offences with varying levels of seriousness, but that regardless of the offence type, the impact of violence can be significant. Therefore locally, there is a desire to take action to prevent violence.
The research explored the risk factors that may lead to violence and concluded that in Gloucestershire our efforts to prevent violence should focus on ensuring early identification and support for those with mental health conditions; ensuring children and young people remain in education; ensuring early identification and support for those with special educational needs (SEN); positive engagement with substance misuse services; support for parents; and that ensuring support is in place for children witnessing domestic abuse in the home.
The report states that the solution will not be ‘one-size-fits-all’ and a multi-agency approach is necessary to address the issue of violent crime in the county.
Key points from the report include:
- Overall Gloucestershire is a safe place with lower rates of violent crime than comparable areas (The rate is 15.2 violent crimes per 1000 of the population)
- 34 per cent of all violent crimes in the county are linked to domestic abuse
- Knife crime accounts for less than 1 per cent of all crime in the county. (The rate of 0.5 knife crimes per 1000 of the population)
- Offenders are mainly male, aged 18-30
- Violence is the outcome of experiencing a range of risk factors; offenders often face multiple and complex needs and vulnerabilitie
The findings of the research were discussed by a meeting of Safer Gloucestershire on Tuesday 14 January 2020. Safer Gloucestershire is a body which uses the expertise of senior managers from a range of Gloucestershire’s agencies to enhance public safety in the county.
Recommendations to establish a future focus to tackle and prevent violent crime include:
- Ensuring work with communities to find solutions and encouraging a locally-led response to violence
- A community strengths-based approach at district level
- Focus on what services can be provided to reduce the impact of violence and provide support
- Training and raising awareness
- Ensuring a good understanding of unreported violence and an effective response
- Focus on violence that happens as part of the night-time economy and links to alcohol use
While Gloucestershire has a lower rate of violent crime than in comparable areas, it is expected that violent crime levels will rise in the coming year. This is due to improvements and changes to the way that crimes are recorded in Gloucestershire.
Violence prevention coordinator, Sophie Jarrett who led the research said: “This research has been conducted to ensure the local response to violent crime addresses the underlying factors that increase violence, and ensures we take an evidence-based approach locally. Preventing violence is a long-term plan and should focus on early intervention and prevention of risk factors before problems begin to emerge. A multi-agency response that includes engagement with the community is essential.”
Chair of Safer Gloucestershire and Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Chris Brierley, whose office funded the research project, says: “This report, for me, enforces the view that we do live and work in a safe county. But like everywhere, crime and violent crime is on the increase. But we are not going to arrest our way out of this, as the public health approach to this research has shown, there are many societal issues and risks that are factors contributing to violence. Whilst the county has some really good provision there is always room for improvement and this report helps us to establish the areas where we need to do more.”
The full report will be published over the coming weeks. More information on what Safer Gloucestershire is and its plans, can be found by going to: https://www.gloucestershire-pcc.gov.uk/priorities/safer-gloucestershire/