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The West Midlands Violence Reduction Unit has joined with Walsall College to put in place a raft of initiatives designed to keep pupils safe and reduce violence in the area.

The VRU, which is overseen by the Police and Crime Commissioner and partners from the region, is increasing the amount of early intervention at the site.

The pilot scheme will see staff at the college receive training to help them identify potentially vulnerable students who could benefit from some extra support. There will also be additional mentoring for young people at risk of being drawn into violence.

Specialists will be drafted in to help individuals affected by domestic abuse, sexual violence, exploitation, grooming, drugs and stalking.

There has been an increase in violent crime across the country over the last few years with knife crime in the West Midlands doubling between 2014 and 2019. Gun crime has risen by a third over the same period.

The Violence Reduction Unit is funded by the Home Office, the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner and local councils. It works with partners across the region including Public Health England, West Midlands Police, local councils and the NHS to reduce violence by preventing problems at the earliest possible stage.

The West Midlands Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Ashley Bertie, said: “I’m pleased to see the Violence Reduction Unit is now working closely with Walsall College to support students who might need some extra help at difficult times in their lives.

“We know there are rising levels of violence across the West Midlands, but we also know we can’t arrest our way out of the problem.

“This initiative is designed to help reduce violence before it starts by working with the people of Walsall and providing support to those most at need.”

Superintendent Kim Madill, from Walsall police, said: “As the Safer Walsall Partnership lead for violence I’m really excited about this opportunity and it’s potential to have a huge impact on young people who are at risk of getting involved in crime.

“We’ve been working closely with a range of partners to seek their support and better understand the root causes of violence for some time.

“This partnership will further help us divert young people from crime, but also make sure the right support is in place to help students who may be struggling.

“All students will be trained in adverse childhood experiences and their impact. Where required we’ll be able to offer access to counselling and other support services from partners across the voluntary sector.”

Jayne Holt, Assistant Principal for Workforce Development & Learning Services said : “Our college initiative with the West Midlands Violence Reduction Unit and wider partners means that all staff and many of our students are being trained to recognise the impact of trauma and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) on students’ lives.

“This will influence how we approach behaviours right across our organisation.

“Working with our regional partners means students can also benefit from further advice and support should they need it.”

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