The Government is determined to do all it can to break the deadly cycle of violence that devastates the lives of individuals, families and communities. This strategy sets out how we will respond to serious violence.
The strategy consolidates the range of very important work already being taken forward and renews our ambition to go further, setting out a number of significant new proposals. We want to make clear that our approach is not solely focused on law enforcement, very important as that is, but depends on partnerships across
a number of sectors such as education, health, social services, housing, youth services, and victim services. In particular it needs the support of communities thinking about what they can themselves do to help prevent violent crime happening in the first place and how they can support measures to get young people and young adults involved in positive activities. Our overarching message is that tackling serious violence is not a law enforcement issue alone. It requires a multiple strand approach involving a range of partners across different sectors.
The strategy sets out our analysis of the evidence and the trends and drivers of serious violent crime. The evidence shows that while overall crime continues to fall, homicide, knife crime and gun crime have risen since 2014 across virtually all police force areas in England and Wales. Robbery has also risen sharply since 2016. These increases have been accompanied by a shift towards younger victims and perpetrators. Most of the violence is also male on male. About half the rise in robbery, knife and gun crime is due to improvements in police recording. For the remainder, drug‐related cases seem to be an important driver. Between 2014/15 and 2016/17, homicides where either the victim or suspect were known to be involved in using or dealing illicit drugs increased from 50% to 57%.
Crack cocaine markets have strong links to serious violence and evidence suggests crack use is rising in England and Wales due to a mix of supply and demand factors. Drug‐related cases also seem to be one of the driving factors in the homicide increase in the United States. Drug‐market violence may also be facilitated and spread to some extent by social media. A small minority are using social media to glamorise gang or drug‐selling life, taunt rivals and normalise weapons carrying. There has also been an increase in vulnerable groups susceptible to the related exploitation and/or drug use.
The strategy is framed on four key themes: tackling county lines and misuse of drugs, early intervention and prevention, supporting communities and partnerships, and an effective law enforcement and criminal justice response. This strategy represents a step change in the way we think and respond to serious violence, establishing a new balance between prevention and law enforcement.
Given the strong link between drugs and serious violence and the related harm and exploitation from county lines, we have set out the action we will take to tackle this violent and exploitative criminal activity. The Home Office is supporting the development of a new National County Lines Co‐ordination Centre. We will continue to raise awareness of county lines and the related exploitation, and we will provide funding to support delivery of a new round of Heroin and Crack Action Areas.
Our work on early intervention and prevention is focused on steering young people away from crime and putting in place measures to tackle the root causes. The Home Office has committed £11 million over the next two years through a new Early Intervention Youth Fund to provide support to communities for early intervention and prevention with young people. We will support Redthread to expand and pilot its Youth Violence Intervention Programme outside London, starting with Nottingham and Birmingham, and to develop its service in major London hospitals. We will also continue to fund Young People's Advocates working with gang‐affected young women and girls, and exploring whether the model should be expanded. The Home Office will work with the Department for Education and Ofsted to explore what more can be done to support schools in England to respond to potential crime risks and to provide additional support to excluded children.
We need an approach that involves partners across different sectors, including police, local authorities and the private and voluntary sector. Communities and local partnerships will be at the heart of our response. This issue must be understood and owned locally so that all the relevant partners can play their part. We will support local partnerships, working with Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs), to galvanise the local response to tackling serious violence and ensure that they are reflecting local challenges within their plans. We have launched a new media campaign raising awareness about the risks of carrying knives. To help communities tackle knife crime, the Home Office is providing up to £1 million for the Community Fund in both 2018/19 and 2019/20, in addition to continuing the Ending Gang Violence and Exploitation (EGVE) Fund and EGVE review programme.
We are clear that tackling serious violence is not a law enforcement issue alone and requires partnerships across a range of agencies; however we want to ensure that we are providing the tools to support the law enforcement and criminal justice response. We are planning new legislation to strengthen our controls on knives, corrosive substances and rearms. The Home Office will also work with Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Service (HMICFRS) to ensure their PEEL inspections focus on serious violence and support a HMICFRS thematic inspection of county lines in 2018/19. The Home Office has commissioned the Centre for Applied Science and Technology to ensure that the police have the capability to undertake street testing for corrosives.
Finally, we will ensure that there is a framework in place to support delivery of the strategy. The Home Office will establish a new cross sector Serious Violence Taskforce with key representatives from a range of national, local and delivery partner agencies to oversee delivery and challenge the impact of delivery of the Serious Violence Strategy. The current Inter‐Ministerial Group on Gangs will be refocused to oversee and drive delivery of the strategy. The Home Secretary will also hold an International Violent Crime Symposium to bring together the international academic community to understand the trends in serious violence in different parts of the world.