Bedfordshire's Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU)
Bedfordshire’s Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) is a network of agencies and groups that aim to tackle the root causes of things like gang membership and prevent young people from falling into gang criminality and exploitation.
Bedfordshire is one of 22 Home Office funded Violence Reduction Units (VRU) across the United Kingdom, and the only unit to emphasise the link between violence and exploitation. We provide specialist support and advice to help you, whether you are a young person directly involved, have concerns about a family member or friend, or work in this area and want to learn more about what we do.
Tackling violence and the exploitation of children and other vulnerable people in Bedfordshire is crucial work that no person, group or organisation can solve on their own. That is why the county’s Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit is potentially so pioneering and important. With funding from the Home Office, the VERU has the financial backing as well as the energy and will of people across the county to succeed.
Everything we do at the VERU is underpinned by analysis and data. Violence and exploitation are key public health issues across Bedfordshire that can have a huge impact on an individual’s life, with potentially devastating consequences.
We focus on:
Stopping violence before it begins.
Halting the progression of violence as early as possible and providing a way out for those established in violent behaviour and those affected as victims.
Enforcement and Criminal Justice
Disrupting criminality that often involves violence.
Influencing societal views towards violence, including individual views and community views.
The VERU does this by coordinating the response to violence and exploitation across different agencies in Bedfordshire, commissioning dozens of community projects every year to offer young people opportunities and activities, as well as working directly with young people and families.
Part of our unique offering is our Youth Intervention Specialists
Our Youth Intervention Specialist (YIS) Team provides one-to-one support and group advisory sessions to young people, parents and professionals. The team comes with a wealth of both lived and professional experience, ready to support and work with victims, witnesses and those involved in criminal activities.
Recorded incidents of serious youth violence fell by 24 per cent in Bedfordshire in the 12 months to April 2021, compared to the same timeframe to April 2019. While the pandemic has played a big part in a drop of this scale, serious youth violence had significantly reduced year-on-year just prior to the first national lockdown.
The VERU has subsequently been awarded a further £3.5 million to continue its work for the next three years.
Our aim is to encourage the reduction of Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) and violent activities impacting our community. We need to continue to work together, across multiple agencies and organisational boundaries, to identify and address the root causes and drivers, and promote factors that protect individuals from becoming involved in violence and exploitation in the first place.