May 24, 2021. News

Minister for Crime & Policing visits Thames Valley for VRU showcase

Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) hosted a successful visit by the Home Office Minister of State for Crime and Policing on Friday 21 May, showcasing work led by the VRU and its partners from across the Thames Valley.

Kit Malthouse MP requested the visit to learn more about the Thames Valley VRU’s leading work to develop new approaches to using data, known as the Thames Valley Together project, and to hear from partners working to reduce violence.

Kit Malthouse MP with Stan Gilmour, Director of the Thames Valley VRU

DCI Lewis Prescott-Mayling, who leads the VRU’s Data & Targeting workstream, gave a demonstration of the system currently being used by Thames Valley Police but soon to be opened up to local partner agencies such as local authorities, youth justice and health.

The Minister was impressed by the ability to collate policing data to improve hot spot policing, but also the potential to draw together individual person-level information from across partners in local authority, health, education, youth justice and policing.  Through this, the Thames Valley Together platform is able to over-lay information to help identify risk factors and has the potential to assist partners in their decision-making and actions to tackle the underlying root causes of crime and violence. Read DCI Prescott-Mayling’s blog to learn more.

In addition, a number of partners who are working with the VRU on local intervention projects presented to the Minister:

Tim Blake and Sam Lloyd of Starting Point mentoring presented on their role delivering the Hospital Navigator programme with the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust in Reading.  Hospital Navigators work with those admitted to A&E who have been subject to violence, have substance misuse problems or who could otherwise benefit from mentor support.   Learn more here.

Kishan Waas of Berkshire Health NHS Foundation Trust’s Liaison and Diversion service presented on their work with those at risk of violent behaviour.  They briefed the Minister on their piloting of psychological screening approaches, use of low-level therapy interventions and how their study seeks to inform future therapeutic approaches.

Rob Murray of New Era Foundation presented on his role as programme manager for the Divert Programme, with five Custody Intervention Coaches embedded in custody suites across the Thames Valley.   Each coach is employed by the local football club community trust.  Josh Wilson, who operates from Abingdon custody on behalf of Oxford United in the Community, presented on how he works with young people entering custody, providing a mentoring and diversion role to help prevent violence and reoffending.  Learn more here.

Didge Oku of The Edge drug and alcohol service, West Berkshire, was joined by JT, a 15-year-old boy who has recently been supported through a Young Person Diversion Scheme programme following his arrest for possession of drugs.  He spoke to the minister about his use of drugs and the harmful patterns of behaviour he was caught up in.  The diversion programme, supported by workers from The Edge, helped to educate him of the harm and impact of his drug use and refocus on how he could change his life. Learn more here.

Speaking after the visit, Kit Malthouse MP, Minister for Crime & Policing, said:

“A fascinating and reassuring visit to the Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit who are clearly in great shape for the mission to drive down violence across the board.”

In response to hearing the powerful story first-hand from JT, the Minister posted on social media:

“It was heartening to hear a young man who has turned his life around. Bravo!”