Labour pledge to boost staffing at violence reduction centres

Labour would significantly increase staffing at 18 violence reduction units in an effort to clamp down on gang warfare and crime, the party has announced.

The shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, said that if Labour came to power there would be about 20 extra officers employed at each of the government-funded units, which bring together police, local government, probation, health and community leaders.

The major general election pledge on crime and policing comes after a torrid 24 hours for the party during which it faced severe criticism from the chief rabbi over its handling of antisemitism.

Abbott, speaking before an event with anti-knife crime campaigners in Hackney, east London, said: “Tory cuts to the police have made our communities less safe.

“You can’t have safety and security on the cheap and you can’t believe a word that Boris Johnson says on policing.

“Labour will fully resource our police forces after Tory cuts and our focus on violence reduction units will make a public health approach to tackling crime a reality.”

Johnson announced £35m in funding in August for 18 police and crime commissioners to set up the specialist units to tackle violent crime in their area. The mayor of London, Labour’s Sadiq Khan, set one up for the capital in 2018.

Labour has said it supports the model, sometimes described as a public health approach to crime, which has had significant success in reducing violence rates in Glasgow in the past decade. Murders have reduced in the Scottish city to the lowest level since 1976.

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The 20 additional officers per unit would be drawn from a recruitment drive by Labour which involves them funding 22,000 police officers – 2,000 more than the Conservatives have promised.

Labour has also pledged to invest to tackle reoffending rates, with pilot innovations supported by a £20m annual criminal justice innovation fund for which police and crime commissioners and local criminal justice boards could bid.

In each of the 43 police force areas of England and Wales up to £465,000 could be available to be spent on programmes such as early intervention, women’s centres and restorative justice programmes.

The 18 police forces with violence reduction units are the Metropolitan police, West Midlands, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Northumbria, Thames Valley, Lancashire, Essex, Avon and Somerset, Kent, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Bedfordshire, Sussex, Hampshire and South Wales.


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