A NEW unit that aims to tackle violent and organised crime in South Yorkshire was the topic of discussion at a recent council meeting.

At the North Area council meeting, Mark Miller, of the neighbourhood policing team, gave a presentation and report on the newly commissioned Violence Reduction Unit.

In August 2019, around £1.6m was awarded to Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings to initiate the unit.

The Violence Reduction Unit monitor and tackle organised crime before it is committed, including gun crime, knife crime and domestic abuse.

On Monday at Barnsley Town Hall, Mark addressed the aims of the unit and what the team looks to achieve in the borough.

At the meeting, the three key aims of the unit in its first stage of work were outlined - developing an area profile, developing strategy around reducing violence, and inviting groups to bid for the funding of projects from the Violence Reduction Unit.

It was reported that the unit does not deliver the work, but instead gives a detailed overview and strategy towards crime in the borough.

Work is going on to establish where South Yorkshire’s ‘hot spots’ for knife and violent crime exist, and then drawing up strategy to tackle this.

Speaking to the council, Mark said: “Things can change very very quickly.

“It is important that we set out where we currently stand in the community at the moment.”

Mark emphasised the importance of early intervention and ‘unravelling a whole host of issues’.

The unit aims to work with groups such as young people and ex-military personnel who could be struggling to adjust to society after leaving the military.

Coun Phil Lofts said: “I’m not sure if I approve of the profiling of young people, it smacks of American practices.

Mark responded: “We’re not profiling young people. If behaviour by an individual at school is disruptive, we can offer support.

“Family intervention is given at the earliest stage if possible.”

Coun Phil Lofts, for Old Town, added: “Violence beholds drug dealing, especially in my ward. A precursor to violence is drugs.

“It can lead to serious threats of serial violence and I would really like someone to get a grip of this.”

Work is also to be done to improve the lives of those subjected to domestic violence including the victim and any children involved - to prevent any further risks of crime.

Support is to be offered to the children as they could be at greater risk of committing crimes in the future.

At the meeting, Mark added: “The unit is currently doing a piece of work on domestic abuse services.

“It is an intensive piece of work.”