A new helpline and outreach service is to be created to support young people affected by knife crime in Kent.
The initiative forms part of the work of the Violence Reduction Unit which is being set up after the Home Office approved an application from the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for more than £1.1million. The PCC Matthew Scott explained:
‘While Kent has not experienced the same levels of serious violence as some other areas in recent times, we have our own unique challenges. Some of those challenges are linked to county lines activity operating out of London and other areas, where young people are being exploited to act as drugs mules.
‘This is not a trend unique to Kent, and it is not one that the police can simply arrest its way out of. The police and partner agencies need to work together to help lift these vulnerable young people out of a life of crime.’
As well as the PCC, the Violence Reduction Unit will comprise representatives of Kent Police, the NHS and local councils.
Detail of how the outreach service will operate are still to be finalised, but Mr Scott said:
‘Partners across the Violence Reduction Unit who come into contact with vulnerable people will be able to point young people towards the service to get them the support they need. Young people will also be able to refer themselves directly into it through the helpline.’
The Home Office first indicated it would be willing to put £1,160,000 into a Kent Violence Reduction Unit in June. In doing so, the Home Office invited the PCC to apply for the money by stating how it would be used.
Announcing today that a total of £35million had been awarded to 18 areas, including Kent, Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said:
‘To beat knife crime we must do two things: first we need assertive, high profile police enforcement and second, we need a coordinated approach to the long term solutions to violence in society, especially amongst the young. These new units should help us get results on both.’