criminal justice
local government
primary & secondary education
voluntary sector

Tackling and Reducing Violent Crime

criminal justice

local government

primary & secondary education

voluntary sector

08:45 - 15:50

Thursday 28 March 2019

Central London

This Forum will bring together delegates from a variety of professional sectors to discuss how to tackle and reduce violent crime across the UK. Attendees will gain a comprehensive overview of the latest policies, strategies and funding initiatives designed to combat violent crime through effective prevention and law enforcement. Moreover, case studies will provide delegates with a unique insight into how charities, schools, police forces and local authorities can work in tandem to address and reduce the key drivers of violent behaviour.


This Forum is specifically designed for Police, Local Authorities, Schools and the Voluntary Sector. Typical job titles will include:

  • Youth Engagement Officers
  • Violent Crime Leads
  • Knife Crime Leads
  • Superintendents
  • Community Protection Leads
  • Neighbourhood Services Officers
  • Youth Workers
  • Housing Directors
  • Community Safety Officers
  • Youth Justice Officers
  • Probation Officers
  • Inspectors
  • Criminologists
  • Police and Crime Commissioners
  • School Coordinators
  • Head Teachers
  • Social Workers

This Forum is also open to the Health Sector and the Private Sector to encourage networking and debate.

Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Detective Superintendent Sean Yates, Operation Sceptre Knife Crime Lead, Metropolitan Police
  • Senior Representative, MOPAC
View the agenda and additional speakers


According to the Office for National Statistics in January 2018, knife and gun crime offences have risen by 21% and 20% respectively since last year across England and Wales. These violent offences are disproportionately concentrated in London and other metropolitan areas, and threaten to reverse the trend of many years of reductions in such criminal activities.

In response, the Government released its Serious Violence Strategy in April 2018, centring on the four themes of county lines and drug misuse, early intervention and prevention, supporting communities and local partnerships, and law enforcement. This strategy is to be implemented by a dedicated cross-sectoral Violent Crime Taskforce, which will work with affected communities and evaluate the impact and effectiveness of the national strategy. Measures put forth in the Government’s violent crime strategy include an £11 million Early Intervention Youth Fund, a National County Lines Co-ordination Centre to tackle violent and exploitative criminal drug activity, additional rounds of the anti-knife crime Community Fund of up to £1 million, and more funding for young people’s advocates working with gang-affected young women and girls.

In London specifically, stabbings are at their highest level in six years and murders have risen by 44%, according to police figures. In response, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has been overseeing his London Knife Crime Strategy since 2017, as well as introducing the Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy 2018-2021. The Mayor is also committing £500,000 to a new Violence Reduction Unit, modelled on the successful outcomes of Glasgow police’s violence reduction strategies. However, despite the disproportionate amount of violence occurring in the capital, the largest increases in knife crime have happened outside London. ONS statistics show that since 2010-11 knife crime has risen by a tenth in London, but by a third across the rest of England and Wales; an especially sharp rise has been observable across the West Midland region in places like Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton and Walsall.

Many of the factors contributing to violent crime, such as gang activity, drug dealing, family instability, economic deprivation, poor mental health, academic under-performance and social exclusion, are inextricably interlinked and often mutually reinforce one another. Thus, policy solutions must be designed accordingly, allowing organisations to work together effectively across boundaries and co-produce integrated services, initiatives and programmes which address the multitude of risk factors associated with violent crime. It must also be understood that policy solutions that work in London may not be as effective elsewhere, given the socio-political and demographic differences.

If we are to effectively reduce violent crime there must be a consistent and coordinated response across police, schools, youth services, hospitals, charities, local authorities and community groups, so that the UK’s citizens, families and communities can live in safety and security.

Niven Rennie, Director – Violence Reduction Unit, Strathclyde Police

Having had over 30 years experience as a police officer, Niven was appointed as Director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit in July 2018.

Niven joined Strathclyde Police in 1985 and gained his initial police experience in Ayrshire where he became a Detective Officer. He transferred to Glasgow on promotion to Sergeant in 1992 before returning to Ayrshire as an Inspector, Chief Inspector and Superintendent. In 2009 he was appointed Head of Road Policing for Strathclyde Police before becoming Deputy Divisional Commander in Renfrewshire and Inverclyde.

Niven was heavily involved in the Scottish police reform process and represented the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents throughout the implementation of Police Scotland in 2013. In 2014, he became a Chief Superintendent and President of the Superintendents Association. This high profile position required him to become the public face of the operational leaders of the police service in Scotland, appearing regularly on television and widely quoted in our newspapers. As Chair of the staff side of the Scottish Police Negotiating Board, Niven led pay negotiations for all police officers in Scotland.

Following retirement from the police in 2016, Niven became the Chief Executive Officer of South Ayrshire Escape from Homelessness (SeAscape), a charity offering support to those in poverty or housing need in the Ayrshire area.

Niven is now responsible for the strategic direction of the Violence Reduction Unit and represents the unit on a number of national bodies.


Registration, Refreshments and Networking


Chair's Welcome Address

Dr Simon Harding, Professor of Criminology, University of West London (CONFIRMED)


Morning Keynote: Tackling Violent Crime through Effective Policing and Law Enforcement

  • Detailing the key aims and strategies of Operation Spectre, a nationwide anti-knife crime initiative which resulted in the removal of 4,104 weapons in February 2018 alone
  • Assessing the effectiveness of intensified strategies designed to tackle knife crime, including targeted stop and searches, weapon sweeps, test purchases of knives from retailers, and amnesty bins
  • Explaining how an additional 1,000 police officers on the streets of London over the next two years will contribute towards, and enhance, the Met’s efforts to tackle violent crime
  • Partnering with schools and deploying Safer Schools Officers to deliver high-impact, educational workshops to young people, raising awareness about the dangers of carrying a knife or using a knife in violent circumstances
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of the Violent Crime Taskforce in delivering the aims and commitments of the Serious Violence Strategy 2018 
  • Exploring the relationship between gang activity, illicit drug markets and violent crime in London and surrounding areas

Detective Superintendent Sean Yates, Operation Sceptre Knife Crime Lead, Metropolitan Police (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Reducing Violent Crime in London through Holistic, Preventative and Collaborative Strategies

  • Evaluating the implementation of the June 2017 London Knife Crime Strategy; examining which approaches have worked well, and pinpointing aspects which need improvement
  • Outlining key measures in the Mayor’s Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy 2018-2021
  • Committing £500,000 to the Violence Reduction Unit, which understands and tackles violent crime as a long-term “public health issue”
  • Tackling societal problems like poverty, social alienation, mental ill-health and a lack of opportunity which all drive violent crime
  • Effectively utilising health and justice data to identify risk factors in children’s lives and deliver targeted early interventions to prevent vulnerable young people from committing violent criminal acts
  • Launching a £45 million Young Londoners Fund, providing a range of education, sport, cultural and other activities for young people at risk of violent criminal behaviour

Senior Representative, MOPAC (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Demonstrably Reducing Violent Crime Through Multi-Agency Partnerships and Long-Term Strategic Planning

  • Establishing the Violent Reduction Unit (VRU) in 2005 to tackle knife crime and weapon carrying among young men by adopting a long-term, public health approach to violence
  • Demonstrating exceptional operational success, with recorded crime in Scotland at a forty year low and serious violent crime having been reduced by 50% over the past decade
  • Collaborating with agencies across healthcare, education and social work to create long-term attitudinal change, in addition to enforcement
  • Recognising the link between gang crime and violence; designing and implementing the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence
  • Disrupting gang activity through community engagement and personal development programmes
  • Effectively lobbying for statutory change regarding maximum sentences for carrying offensive weapons such as knives
  • Operating within a holistic framework which moves beyond enforcement to include service provision and being the “moral voice” of the community

Niven Rennie, Director – Violence Reduction Unit, Strathclyde Police (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Taking an Integrated Whole-System Approach to Successfully Reduce Youth Knife Crime Locally

  • Forming the Integrated Gangs Team (IGT) in 2016, resulting in a 13% reduction in the number of knife attack victims under 25 over the past year, compared to a 15% increase across London
  • Bringing together staff from across the police, young offender services, probation services, the NHS, Job Centre and voluntary groups to work with young people at high risk of involvement in gang-related criminality or violence
  • Adopting a welfare-oriented, early intervention approach to crime prevention, helping potential young offenders avoid violent criminal activity by assisting them into education or employment
  • Offering intensive support in areas such as housing, mental health and substance misuse
  • Rolling out a new Prevention Offer to respond to the need to intervene earlier with a younger age range of children identified as being on the cusp of serious gang violence

Councillor Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children and Young People, Islington Council (CONFIRMED)

Dr Bella Obi, Clinical Psychologist, City Psychology Group (invited)


Case Study: Tackling Violent Crime as a Charity by Embedding Youth Services in Hospitals

  • Running the Youth Violence Intervention Programme (YVIP), embedding youth services within Major Trauma Centres across three hospital emergency departments to effectively engage with young victims of serious violence
  • Understanding that undergoing a serious trauma presents a golden opportunity for a ‘Teachable Moment’, allowing Redthread to empower victims to make a positive change where they may have felt unable to previously
  • Supporting young people in making healthy choices and positive plans to disrupt the cycle of violence
  • Partnering with the Institute of Psychiatry and HERON network to evaluate the YVIP’s effectiveness, ensuring young people are getting the support and outcomes that the programme is designed to provide for them

Winners in the Children and Youth category at the Charity Awards 2018 

John Poyton, CEO, Redthread (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers


Lunch and Networking


Afternoon Keynote: Targeting County Lines and Youth Exploitation to Reduce Violent Crime

  • Highlighting the evolving drugs market as one of the drivers of the recent increase in violent crime
  • Detailing key findings from the NCA’s latest threat assessment on County Lines, and their contribution to the recent spikes in violence, including knife and gun crime
  • Collaborating with a number of other public bodies as part of the County Lines Working Group, tasked with combating drug supply and safeguarding young people who are exploited and/or harmed in the process
  • Working closely with police forces and the Home Office, sharing intelligence and information, and identifying links with criminal exploitation and illegal drugs markets
  • Supporting police forces in their use of Drug Dealing Telecommunications Restriction Orders, allowing them to shut down mobile networks associated with phones used for county lines dealing

Steve Rodhouse, Director General – Operations, National Crime Agency (NCA) (invited)


Special Keynote: Ensuring Frontline Police Officers are Fully Equipped to Tackle Violent Crime

  • Being awarded £3m to develop a robust evidence base identifying what works in tackling and reducing serious violence, including knife and gang crime
  • Empowering and training frontline police officers to use their statutory powers with confidence, in order to maximise the number of offensive weapons seized
  • Ensuring officers are aware of the growing body of evidence pointing towards the link between drug dealing, gang activity and recent violent crime rises
  • Giving officers sufficient training in stop and search, ensuring they are conducted with dignity and professionalism to maintain the confidence and support of the wider public
  • Understanding how putting a greater number of officers into violence hotspots and more intelligence into the hands of local officers will enable police to more easily cope with rising gun and knife crime

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Duncan Ball, Lead for Knife Crime, National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Developing an Effective Youth Violence Strategy at a Local Level

  • Adopting a joined-up approach to tackle knife crime locally, recognising the multiplicity of factors contributing towards increased levels of violent crime in the borough
  • Developing a long-term strategy for tackling violence against young people by identifying fundamental risk factors relating to the propensity of young people to engage in violent criminal behaviour
  • Applying a generational, public health model to ensure holistic understandings of, and solutions to, violent crime against young people
  • Providing dedicated support for young black men and their families and involving them in strategy development, recognising that they are disproportionately affected by youth violence
  • Encouraging community engagement, partnership working and intelligence sharing between all relevant bodies to help prevent and disrupt violent crime
  • Implementing housing estate-based local plans to effectively tackle gang activity

Kristian Aspinall, Lead Commissioner for Crime and Disorder, Lambeth Borough Council (invited)


Case Study: Building Resilience Against Street Gangs to Reduce Young Violence

  • Running powerful, educational school assemblies to help raise awareness and build resilience against the negative influences of street gang culture
  • Hosting interactive group workshops for young people aged between 9-18 years old identified as being in a gang, as well as for those on the periphery of gang culture
  • Providing multi-agency training seminars to equip participants with a thorough understanding of the factors that push young people towards serious youth violence through gang membership and affiliation
  • Delivering one-to-one mentoring services to local authority agencies tailored to each young person’s needs, using an individual development plan to act as a guide for their exit strategy

Sheldon Thomas, Founder, Gangsline (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Chair's Summary and Close

*programme subject to change

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