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New legislation steps up fight against knife crime and serious violence

POLICE and Crime Commissioner Darryl Preston will have new legal responsibilities from today (Tuesday 31st January) to bring together key organisations who can prevent serious violence and protect lives.

The Serious Violence Duty, which comes into force nationally today, places a legal obligation on public sector organisations such as the police and local authorities to work closer together with the support of police and crime commissioners to tackle the root causes of serious violence and prevent unnecessary deaths.

The legislation comes as the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Police and Crime Commissioner announced funding, working with partners from across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough who are focused on tackling child exploitation, to launch a new educational project raising awareness among young people of issues such as County Lines, grooming and knife/serious violence.

Partners will work with an education provider to deliver a tailored package of educational content and resources including lesson plans and short animated videos aimed at Key Stage 2 primary school pupils.

County Lines is criminal activity in which drug dealers establish networks for the supply and sale of drugs in towns and rural areas, typically exploiting young or vulnerable people to front their operation. Criminals often use violence and intimidation to enforce debts and protect territory.

Darryl said: “The Serious Violence Duty is a welcomed step in the fight against knife crime and serious violence and I will continue to work with partners to support the efforts they put into preventing the exploitation of young people and reducing their risk of harm.

“There is already a strong model of collaboration in place in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. We’ve long understood that serious violence cannot be tackled by one agency alone and activity is coordinated at every level including through the High Harms Board I chair.

“Crime Prevention is one of the core pillars of my Police and Crime Plan and I will continue to support work which confronts important issues at the earliest opportunity in young people’s lives where the impact is greatest.”

Cllr Alice Gilderdale, Cambridge City Council’s Executive Councillor for Recovery, Employment and Community Safety, added: “We know that people across the UK are alarmed by increasing reports of serious youth violence. Thankfully these are not as common in Cambridgeshire as in some other parts of the UK, but when they do occur they are no less devastating for their rarity.

“We want to prevent serious youth violence across Cambridgeshire, and increase people’s sense of safety. It’s absolutely the right thing to do to look at the root causes, so that unnecessary deaths can be prevented. We are pleased to receive this additional funding to support and enhance our work with the police, county council, Police and Crime Commissioner and other local partners, as we seek to prevent serious youth violence.”

The new duty has been introduced as part of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 and follows the publication of the government’s Serious Violence Strategy in 2018.

It requires public sector and criminal justice agencies to work together, share information and publish actions they need to take collectively to reduce violent crime including domestic abuse and sexual offences.

Prior to the new legislation, the PCC established and now chairs a High Harms Board to increase consistency in prevention work and coordinate the activities of multiple agencies in tackling issues such as serious crime relating to drugs, serious and organised crime, violence against women and girls and serious violence.

The Constabulary undertake year-round targeted prevention work to crackdown on knife crime and take a proactive approach to tackling County Lines exploitation and drug supply.