The Greater Manchester Police Violence Reduction Unit is investing into reducing youth violence in Salford.

This comes after a 17-year-old was stabbed in a park in Broughton, Salford just three weeks ago. This incident occurred just 9-months-on from a similar incident in which a 17-year-old was stabbed on a road in Seedley in April 2021 as well as three other similar incidents across Greater Manchester in the last few weeks.

The police and the Violence Reduction Unit are imploring Salford locals who are concerned that they, or someone they know, could be involved in or in danger of violence to contact the police or Crimestoppers at 0800 555 111.

Additionally, as well as enhanced Stop and Search powers, knife amnesty boxes have been placed at Police Stations across Greater Manchester, including Swinton Police Station, where knives can be handed over with no questions asked.

The Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) was formed in 2019 to tackle the rising cases of youth violence in Greater Manchester, usually related to gang culture. The VRU comprises representatives from the police as well as the NHS, education services, victim services and local authorities.

In 2019 the VRU allocated funds to organisations in Salford including Odd Arts, Swinton Lions RLFC, Oasis Community Hub: Media City UK, and Stay Safe Manchester with a focus on engaging young people in activities which keep them away from violence and teach them valuable life skills such as discipline and respect.

Furthermore, last year the VRU launched a scheme which put highly skilled youth workers based in A&E departments across several busy hospitals. The ‘navigators’ respond to young people and their families when coming into hospital with injuries that result from violence, referring them on to ongoing outreach and support such as sports clubs or mentoring. To date, 260 young people from across Greater Manchester have been referred to the navigators.

Due to the severity of recent events the VRU have pioneered a campaign urging young people to #SpeakOutToSaveaLife. In a YouTube video published this month they spoke to victims of youth violence who were helped by the VRU scheme.

The VRU official website also issued a press release from Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Fire. He said, “My thoughts are with the families and friends of the three young people tragically killed in recent weeks and all communities affected by violence and knife crime.

“There is no place for violence in our city-region. We are committed to strong police enforcement to address violent crime and to trying to prevent it from happening in this first place, but this requires partners to continue to work together with young people and communities to create long-term change. As these recent events have all too sadly demonstrated, there is much work to be done to end serious violence and we will not stop in our efforts to do that.

“We need everyone’s help to end violence amongst young people. If you see anything that doesn’t feel right involving your child, a family member or a friend please speak out. Contact the police, school, or another trusted adult to get help and keep them safe.”

Greater Manchester Police’s knife crime lead, Detective Superintendent Chris Downey said, “GMP is working with partner agencies on several initiatives to keep people safe from these weapons which, in the hands of criminals, are stealing lives, devastating families and posing threat, harm and risk to our communities.

“That being said, we all have a part to play when it comes to tackling the issue. Teachers, parents, guardians and extended family members, you can all play a vital role in preventing young people from becoming involved in knife crime, and we advise you to try to talk to them openly about the dangers, as well as the life-changing consequences that come from carrying a knife. If you know or suspect someone carries a knife, I ask you to contact police as soon as possible before it is too late. If you have any other information about crime, please share that too.

I would also like to reach out to the young people within our communities and ask them to report or share any concerns (even anonymously) regarding themselves or friends that are involved in a dispute, violence or carrying a knife. It’s not right to stand by and do nothing. This is not about getting friends in trouble; in the vast majority of instances our involvement is about keeping people safe and understanding why someone feels the need to carry a weapon.

“Neither GMP nor the justice system will tolerate this type of crime – we are proactively stopping and searching individuals and I would remind offenders that carrying a knife can result in a prison sentence and life-long criminal record.”

The official GMP Salford Twitter account published a plea for anyone with information on violence to contact one of their services. They said, “Youth violence causes serious harm and destroys the lives of victims, families, and communities. If you are concerned about a young person, contact the school, police or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Always dial 999 in an emergency.

“Speaking out could save a life. Tell a teacher, friend, or parent if you see or hear something that doesn’t feel right. Help keep young people safe from violence.”

In an article published last month, Manchester Evening News stated that “serious youth violence offences have risen by 200 percent in the last two years” and that despite other regions reporting a reduction in knife crime in 2020-2021 due to the Coronavirus pandemic, in Greater Manchester they increased by 4%. Confirming that there is a growing crisis in the region.

Statistics released by Greater Manchester Police revealed that in Ordsall in the last three years, of 1,668 reported crimes, 395 were ‘violent or sexual offences’, over 23%. Another 21 reports were cases of of weapon possession. Similarly, in Swinton North, over the last three years, of 647 reported crimes, 248 were cases of violence, over 38% of reported crimes. All the crime statistics in Salford can be found here

Knife crime, especially amongst youths, is rapidly evolving into an epidemic in Greater Manchester. If you fear that you or someone you know are in danger please contact the police at 101 or Crimestoppers at 0800 555 111. Or if you do not want to take your issue to the police you can discreetly and anonymously contact the Violence Reduction Unit at 0161 778 7000 for advice.

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