AN EXTRA £2 million is to be spent tackling gangs and violence after gun and knife crime rises, the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) says.
The investment is in response to a 201-page report published last Thursday which was commissioned following an increase in violent crime in the region.
We revealed last month crime in Solihull has risen this year by 23 per cent.
In Solihull, there were 936 violent incidents in public places between April and September this year, up by a third compared to the same period last year.
Part of this rise has been attributed by police and councillors to gang violence, particularly among young people.
The PCC David Jamieson said: “When gangs and violence strike it plagues our communities indiscriminately, leaving victims in its wake.
“This comprehensive report has clarified and deepened our understanding of the causes of these crimes and what circumstances lead people to turn to violent crime.
“I am delighted the local communities will take a lead on reaching out to vulnerable and easily led young people who may be about to make the wrong life choices.
“We must tackle the causes of violent crime 365 days a year.”
The police reported today that nearly 250 firearms were handed in following a two-week firearm surrender.
In 2012 the number of gun crime incidents in the West Midlands stood at 459, but by last year that number had risen to 584.
At 19 per 100,000 people, the West Midlands has a relatively high prevalence of gun crime.
The England and Wales average is only 9 per 100,000 people.
Last year, 0.5 per cent of all gun crimes were murders and 3.8 per cent were attempted murders.
Knife crime in the West Midlands has also risen in recent years.
In 2012 there were 1,566 knife crime incidents. By last year that number had risen to 2,296.
The funding will be for a wide range of projects to be put in place over the next two years, the PCC says.
It wants to commission a team of expert negotiators to defuse violence between gangs and help individuals escape a life of crime.
The PCC says a mentoring scheme will be formed to help young people at risk of offending make the right life choices.
It also aims to put in place a package of support to rehabilitate ex-offenders as they leave prison and re-enter their communities.
The PCC says the aim is to break the cycle of crime by rooting out its social causes.
A further set of programmes will be established to provide alternative activities for young people at risk of school exclusion and offending.
The PCC is already supporting the commission’s recommendations by introducing police cadet units in areas affected by gangs and violence.
The chief constable of West Midlands Police, Dave Thompson, has backed the report, saying: “We will continue to do all we can to get weapons off our streets and take robust action to protect people from harm.
“To reduce gun crime and the scourge of gangs it is crucial that we tackle the root causes too.
“In particular West Midlands Police will focus on deterrence work to prevent crime and make our streets safer.”