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Victims' families attending knife crime summit alongside police and MPs

By Jordan Reynolds | Birmingham | Crime | Published:

Police bosses, MPs and victims' families are coming together for a knife crime summit in Birmingham today.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on knife crime will hold the summit in conjunction with the West Midlands Violence Prevention Alliance and MPs to discuss innovative approaches to tackling knife crime.

The West Midlands Knife Crime Summit will involve more than 30 people including at least 14 MPs, senior police and health service experts and families of victims.

The summit has been called after the West Midlands experienced one of the country’s largest increases in knife crime - with an 85 per cent rise since 2012.

This led to the West Midlands being one of the earliest adopters of a ‘public health approach’ to violence through the West Midlands Violence Prevention Alliance (WMVPA).

The public health approach pioneered by Scotland’s Violence Reduction Unit has since been adopted by the Mayor of London.

The group were set to first visit Queen Elizabeth Hospital, hosted by Rt Hon Jacqui Smith, introducing Redthread’s Youth Violence Intervention Programme which supports young victims of violence in Queen Elizabeth and Heartlands Hospitals.

MPs will then meet with WMVPA co-chairs Dr Sue Ibbotson and ACC Sarah Boycott at the Police Headquarters in Lloyd House.

The discussion will include the Assistant West Midlands Police Crime Commissioner Ashley Bertie, other senior stakeholders, projects funded by the alliance and young people and families with lived experience of youth violence.

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The WMVPA was set up in 2015 and is funded by the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner with the support of West Midlands Police and Public Health England (PHE) West Midlands.

A joint police and PHE team work with organisations such as councils, hospitals and charities to help them to provide services that will prevent violence, using best practice and evidence of where violence takes place.

Sarah Jones, chairwoman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on knife crime, said: “Knife crime is a public health crisis. The only way we will stem the tide of violence is by treating it like a disease: intervening with those most affected and immunising the next generation.

“We know knife crime is a major concern for people in the West Midlands but it’s really important to see the work being done here to treat violence as a public health issue. The safety of our young people must be our number one priority.”

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The Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner, Ashley Bertie, said: “The Violence Prevention Alliance is an innovative scheme which has been designed to tackle the root causes of crime.

“It ensures the police, health service and voluntary sector all work together to prevent violence and keep our community safe.

“In 2016 the Police and Crime Commissioner set up a task force – known as the Commission on Gangs and Violence - to look into what was behind the rise in violent crime. It concluded that, with knife crime up significantly since 2012, we can’t simply arrest our way out of the problem. Instead we must intervene at the earliest possible point to help people make the right life choices and give them the support needed to be productive and integrate into society.”

Jordan Reynolds

By Jordan Reynolds
Reporter - @jreynolds_star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star.

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