Sheffield Hallam University evaluates violent crime reduction in West Yorkshire

22 April 2021

Sheffield Hallam University evaluates violent crime reduction in West Yorkshire

Psychologists at Sheffield Hallam University have led an evaluation assessing the effectiveness of West Yorkshire Police’s Violence Reduction Unit

Press contact: Greg Mattocks-Evans |

Two police officers outside on a British street.

The West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) was established in March 2020 following a successful £3.37 million bid by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for funding from the Home Office’s Serious Violence Fund.

It is one of 18 VRUs which have been set up in a bid to tackle violent crime across the country.

VRUs take a multi-agency approach, bringing together police, local government, public health, voluntary and third sector, community leaders and other key partners to tackle violent crime and crucially to understand its underlying causes.

The evaluation was led by Dr Charlotte Coleman and Dr Kate Whitfield in Sheffield Hallam University’s Forensic and Investigative Research group (FaIR).

Their findings will be important in providing insight of what works at an intervention level in terms of reducing serious violence and will also capture key learning for the VRU to develop and refine its approach to reducing violent crime in the local community.

In addition to exploring the impact of interventions, a key focus is to identify the learning that can be shared and replicated across West Yorkshire.

Understanding community engagement and partnership development are also important outcomes of the evaluation.

Psychologist Dr Charlotte Coleman, lead evaluation investigator from Sheffield Hallam University, said: “Our team are delighted to have worked with the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit on such an important piece of work that will help shape the future of violent crime interventions in West Yorkshire.

“This evaluation will allow the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit to gain an understanding of what is working well, which is important at this early stage in its development. As our team have also carried out the evaluation for South Yorkshire’s Violence Reduction Unit, this partnership allows for practice and knowledge sharing which will have a positive impact across Yorkshire’s regions.”

Chief Superintendent Jackie Marsh, Director of the West Yorkshire VRU said: “Part of taking a public health approach to reducing violence is using and adding to data and the evidence base.

“We want to ensure that the work we are undertaking in West Yorkshire is having a positive impact. The evaluation that Sheffield Hallam University is undertaking will provide valuable insights into what is working well and what could be improved.

“These findings will add to the effectiveness of our work, ensuring that we deliver interventions and initiatives that improve the lives of young people and communities in West Yorkshire.”

Mark Burns-Williamson, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for West Yorkshire, said: “This evaluation will ensure our VRU continues to direct its work where it is needed most.

“As we have seen elsewhere, VRU’s are an important step forward in formulating a better collective understanding and response, but we know that violence in all its forms is a long-term challenge and these findings will help us ensure we continue to develop our work to help ensure our communities are safe and feel safe.”