A UNITED front to tackle violence and make Coventry’s streets safer has been pledged with a new campaign by the police and other authorities.
Senior police officers gathered with representatives from Coventry City Council, the health service, education and charities, plus MPs and youth workers at a Violence Summit yesterday (January 28).
They pledged to deliver a long-term strategy to address the increase in violent crime and allay fears among the public.
West Midlands Police says it has made Coventry a priority area in the fight against violent crime and is committing extra resources to target the gangs who are behind much of the violence.
Coventry Police chief superintendent Mike O’Hara said his wants to create a taskforce working to address the root causes of violence.
It will intervene early in vulnerable people’s lives before they commit offences, he said.
The move will complement work being done under the West Midlands Violence Prevention Alliance which has adopted a public health approach to tackling violence that recognises policing alone cannot solve the problem.
A similar scheme was introduced by Police Scotland in Glasgow back in 2005 and has since been credited with a 60 per cent drop in the city’s murder rate.
Chief supt O’Hara said: “Coventry has seen a near 20 per cent increase in violent crime – including domestic assaults – in the last 12 months.
“We can’t simply police our way out of this upturn in violent offences.
“What’s needed is a variety of services and whole communities working towards solutions.
“We want to divert young people away from crime by offering support at an early stage and better life opportunities.
“Our vision is to fundamentally change the way we look at and tackle violent crime in the city – and the pledge partners have made at the Summit is the first step on the way.”
In the 12 months to September last year there were 2,876 violence offences recorded in Coventry, including just over 1,000 domestic incidents.
A West Midlands Police spokesperson said: “The main trouble hotspot was the city centre, associated with the high density of licenced premises, with injuries ranging from cuts and bruises to serious woundings.
“In addition to increased patrols and proactive operations, intelligence work has been going on behind the scenes to more accurately map the make-up of street gangs and organised crime groups operating in Coventry – and to disrupt their activity.”
Chief Supt O’Hara added early intervention work with children, diverting them away from gangs, is also vitally important.
The force has secured a £150,000 grant from the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson to tackle youth crime in the city, and has applied for a further £350,000 through the national ‘Troubled Families’ fund.