In 2019, the Home Office announced that 18 police force areas (PFAs) would receive funding to establish (or build upon existing) Violence Reduction Units (VRUs) as part of the Serious Violence Fund. The aim of VRUs is to lead and coordinate a preventative, whole-system approach to violence reduction, which comprises:
- multi-agency working
- data sharing and analysis
- engaging young people and communities
- commissioning (and delivering) evidence-based interventions.
The Serious Violence Fund also covers Grip (formerly Surge) activity, which is enforcement focused. Combined, VRU and Grip funding represents a total investment of £254 million across the years (1 April to 31 March) 2019 to 2020 and 2021 to 2022 to tackle Serious Violence (SV). The Home Office originally selected 18 areas and allocated funding amounts based on levels of SV between the years ending March 2016 to March 2018.
The Home Office commissioned Ecorys UK, Ipsos UK, the University of Hull and the University of Exeter to evaluate VRUs in their third year of operation (April 2021 to March 2022). The aims of the evaluation were to:
- estimate the impact of VRUs on violence
- assess the progress made by VRUs towards a whole-system approach
The mixed-methods evaluation included desk-based research, qualitative research with a range of stakeholders in each VRU, and quasi-experimental designs.