Plans to tackle causes of violence and knife crime on Sunderland's streets following tragic death of Connor Brown

Urgent measures have been put forward to tackle knife crime on the streets of Sunderland and the North East following the death of teenager Connor Brown.

Monday, 16th December 2019, 6:00 am

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness has revealed the life-changing organisations which will benefit from nearly £1 million in Violence Reduction Unit funding to combat the issue of violence and knife crime.

The specialist unit was set up earlier this year by the police commissioner in a bid to ensure the North East remains a safe region.

It has a dedicated team working to prevent violence among at-risk teenagers and adults.

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Measures have been backed by funding to tackle knife crime following the death of Connor Brown who was stabbed on a night out in Sunderland city centre.

A total of 30 organisations across the Northumbria area have been awarded a share of £930,000 as part of joint efforts to reduce violent crime– with a focus on early intervention, youth diversion, mental health, and drugs, alcohol and homelessness.

The chosen projects will focus on ensuring that the level of violent crime seen in other cities does not become a reality in the North East.

The announcement comes days after two men were sentenced for the death of Sunderland teenager Connor Brown, 18, who was stabbed while on a night out in the city centre in February.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuiness.

Kim McGuinness said: “By establishing a Violence Reduction Unit we are saying loud and clear, we will not accept rising crime in our region.

“Northumbria is not a violent place, it’s safe and it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep it that way.

“I’m incredibly proud that so many local organisations, from charities to housing providers, have quickly come together with local councils and our NHS and committed to the goal of preventing crime before it happens.

“They are making the changes necessary in our region to give people opportunities, improve lives and divert people from crime.”

Here are some of the measures backed by the funding to tackle the issue of knife crime:

Using sport to give young people worthwhile activities through the The Foundation of Light’s Kicks Town scheme. Working with eight to 14-year-old’s who are at risk of slipping into a life of crime through increasing the reach of the YOLO project across the Northumbria area. The scheme works to prevent youngsters from becoming involved in anti-social behaviour, knife crime and serious youth violence. Supporting a Newcastle United Foundation scheme dedicated to helping young people avoid violent behaviour. Addressing the issues which lead people to begging and becoming at risk of being a victim or perpetrator of serious violence through backing the Changing Lives’ street support officers.

The 30 projects receiving funding will work with Northumbria Police, six local authorities, health, education, and other service providers to better understand the root causes of violent crime

Funding for the Violence Reduction Unit was secured by the Police Commissioner from the Home Office but is only in place until March 2020.

The Commissioner has called on all political parties to commit to providing a dedicated interventions fund from next year.

Kim McGuinness continued: “Violent crime is a symptom of inequality, and like a contagious disease it spreads if we don’t treat it.

“By taking urgent measures now we can prevent this.

“The funding I have provided will help people in the short term, but this is something we need the government to commit to long term.

“We need a long term fix to solve deep-rooted issues.”