New funding will help police tackle violence in pockets across Oxfordshire.

The Home Office has given £735,000 in ‘grip’ funding to enable Thames Valley Police to target violent crime in small areas in the county.

In the past, money from the funding pot has seen the force put on extra patrols in particular areas, sweep for weapons and put on additional operations against those carrying knives.

Police say the new grip funding will let them focus on smaller areas, even working on a street-by-street level.

The money will be invested in gathering intelligence to identify potential ‘hotspots’ of violence and will also see more police patrols.

The Home Office will also put £1.16 into Thames Valley’s Violence Reduction Unit, a partnership group led by a superintendent and aimed at addressing the root causes of violent crime.

Deputy Chief Constable Jason Hogg said: “Our officers and staff are committed to keeping all our communities in the Thames Valley safe and we continue to work closely with the Violence Reduction Unit to deliver the operational policing response.

“This latest funding further supports our work to bear down upon those small number of people who carry weapons, particularly young people, and to deliver a focused deterrent to those most at risk of offending.”

Set up in 2019, the violence reduction unit brought together representatives from the police, councils, schools, prisons, the NHS, probation and youth offending teams to take what has been labelled a ‘public health approach’ to serious violence.

Pioneered in Scotland, the approach sees violent crime as a public health issue and aims to tackle the root causes of the problem.

The Thames Valley group has focused its efforts on young people and schools, with the unit also funding ‘hospital navigators’ to identify potential victims of violent crime at hospital and ‘coaches’ to speak to those in police custody.

Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit director, Det Supt Stan Gilmour, said: “After only our second year of operation we are seeing some strong results, with knife crime down 11 per cent year-on-year. This comes from working across all partners, not just policing, as together we seek to address the factors that cause violence in the first place.”

The Home Office funding – totalling £1.8m in all – was welcomed by Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Barber.

He said: “Tackling serious violence and knife crime remains a priority for the police, our partners and the communities we serve.”

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