In My View: Lib Peck, director of London’s Violence Reduction Unit

We believe violence is preventable, not inevitable.

This mantra underpins all we do at London’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), which was set up by the Mayor of London in 2019 to lead an approach to tackling violence that is rooted in prevention and early intervention.

Last year, we saw a 20 per cent reduction in the number of homicides in London and a 50 per cent drop in the number of teenage homicides.

And while we have seen some improvements in other forms of violence, it’s of little comfort to the families of the young people robbed of their futures who are so much more than a statistic and whose communities and loved ones will be in so much pain.

We’ve got to do more to drive down violence and that means getting to grips with its complex causes which are undeniably poverty, deprivation and lack of opportunity.

If we’re to make South London safer for all, we need to focus on investing in young people, supporting our communities and intervening earlier to prevent violence before it happens. That is our focus.

This means our approach in 2023 will see investment and support around interventions at key points in a young person’s life – including early years, the transition from primary to secondary school, secondary to college or work and relationships with peers and youth workers.

We’ve created networks of support for parents and carers in every borough in South London; we’re investing in schools to support teachers to tackle exclusions; we’re funding youth workers in pupil referral units, in police custody suites and in hospitals, and investing in programmes to support young people after school when we know they are at greater risk of violence.

But there’s a huge role for communities to play in supporting young people to access positive opportunities. It’s why the VRU has taken a new approach, one that puts local people at the heart of not just identifying solutions but delivering them.

Our MyEnds programme brings together local groups and individuals as part of a local community network that involves young people, youth workers and local authorities.

That means in Lambeth organisations like the Marcus Lipton centre and in Southwark, the Active Communities Network.

Collectively the eight MyEnds groups, including Croydon, delivered more than 120 interventions benefitting 3,100 young people and community members.

Giving a voice to young people, working alongside communities and working in partnership defines our approach.

Everyone must play their part for violence to be preventable, not inevitable.

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