New violence prevention strategy unveiled

A new national strategy to help cut violent crime and reduce the harm it causes has been published.

May 31, 2023
By Paul Jacques

Backed by more than £2 million of Scottish government investment this year, the Violence Prevention Framework is the first coordinated strategy for Scotland to tackle the issue.

Using both research and intelligence, it highlights the underlying drivers of violence as well as patterns and trends so they can be targeted better by partners including the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, Medics Against Violence and YouthLink Scotland.

Priorities include preventing young people engaging in violence, helping older offenders with a history of knife-carrying via targeted activity, and extending the hospital-based ‘Navigator’ approach, which helps support people with multiple complex issues, including problematic drug and alcohol use, so they can access the appropriate services, and stop the revolving door of harm.

The strategy – which will be measured and monitored as it rolls out to ensure success – builds on progress made over the past decade-and-a-half, with more than £24 million invested to specifically target violence reduction since 2008.

Scotland has seen a reduction of 25 per cent in non-sexual violent crime since 2006/07 – while homicide rates, violence-related hospital admissions and knife carrying have all reduced over the long term.

Minister for Victims and Community Safety Siobhian Brown said: “Violence and the threat of violence is a complex issue that, if not tackled, can escalate and cause harm, affecting society for generations. It can affect anyone, anywhere – but it does not affect people and communities equally. Poverty and inequalities increase the likelihood of both becoming a victim of violence and of becoming involved in such offending – which is why our Vision for Justice emphasises the importance of the wider public health approach to continuing to cut crime.

“For a decade-and-a-half we have made significant strides in reducing violence, and this new framework can take us further, ensuring that everyone plays their part in preventing violence wherever it persists.

“This first coordinated action plan of its kind in Scotland will support a national partnership approach, backed by investment and an ambitious programme of work, to prevent violence from happening in the first place – ensuring more people and communities are able to live safer lives, free from violence.”

Will Linden, deputy director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, said: “The legacy of the pandemic and the continuing effects of the cost-of-living crisis have created enormous pressure for some of our most vulnerable communities. We must listen to those affected, address the causes of violence, and follow the evidence to provide innovative solutions.

“No one agency can do this on their own, so the national Violence Prevention Framework is an important opportunity for us to pull together and create a safe and resilient Scotland where we can all thrive.”

Christine Goodall of Medics Against Violence said it was vital to continue to “innovate in violence prevention”.

“The framework sets out what we can all do, working in partnership with colleagues and communities across Scotland to continue to drive forward the violence prevention agenda,” she said.

“These are challenging times and while it is vital that we continue to innovate in terms of violence prevention we should also seek out evidence of what already works to put that into practice at scale wherever possible. Central to this should be the voices of the individuals and communities most impacted by violence because in understanding violence from their perspective we will find sustainable solutions.”

Tim Frew, chief executive officer of YouthLink Scotland, said: “YouthLink Scotland has successfully led the nationwide No Knives, Better Lives project for over 12 years, providing invaluable support to youth workers and practitioners, working with young people to better understand and address the drivers of youth violence.

“The launch of the new Violence Prevention Framework is a fantastic opportunity to reinforce our strong partnership connections to others in the violence prevention field, and our commitment to ensuring all children and young people grow up safely and reach their full potential.”

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