South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings has welcomed the Government’s Serious Violence Strategy launched today (9 April 2018).

The Commissioner was one of a small number of police and crime commissioners who recently took part in a round table discussion with the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, ahead of the strategy being announced.

Dr Billings said: “I welcome the government’s Serious Violence Strategy. It marks a return to the successful strategy of the Labour Government under Tony Blair – to get tough on crime but also the causes of crime. It will, however, only be as successful as that was if it is carried through with focus and cash.

“The increase in violent crime is a Europe-wide phenomenon. It has been most marked in London, though we have seen increases in South Yorkshire. The most worrying trend is that perpetrators and victims have been getting younger.

“The causes of renewed violence are many and I welcome the recognition by the Home Secretary that this is not just about law enforcement, important though that is. So while the fall in the number of police officers is a contributory factor, there are many others: the glamorisation of violence in certain kinds of videos and music; the collapse of youth services; the lack of jobs in some areas; mental health and substance misuse; the rise in drugs use among the young; so-called ‘county lines’ – gangs using young people to take drugs from the cities to rural areas.

“Tackling these issues is long-term and will require many organisations working together: police, local authorities, voluntary bodies, the NHS – but also the public.”

South Yorkshire Police have a Knife Crime Strategy in place with a dedicated force lead, Superintendent Una Jennings. As part of that, the police have been conducting Operation Sceptre, bringing many officers into an area to search for weapons.

Officers are encouraged to use stop and search powers, where appropriate. Feedback received from mothers of ethnic community groups welcomes this, provided it is done fairly and proportionately.

As part of Dr Billings’ small grants scheme he has recently funded a knife bin at the Rock Church in Spital Hill, Sheffield, which will be placed there shortly.