PCC to harness power of sport to help tackle serious violence

Merseyside / October 07

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner is uniting with sporting organisations and football legends to host a major conference examining how the sports sector can help to prevent violent crime.

Jane Kennedy is working with Merseyside Police, the European Healthy Stadia Network and a host of Merseyside-based sports organisations to hold a sector-wide seminar ‘Reducing Violent Crime within Merseyside: the role of sports sector’ at Goodison Park on Wednesday 9th October.

The event, which is being supported by Liverpool F.C legends Jamie Carragher and Ian Rush and Everton Football Club ambassadors Graeme Sharp and Ian Snodin, will engage with 100 representatives from sports clubs and bodies of all sizes and types across Merseyside looking at how they can work with the newly-formed Violence Reduction Unit to help prevent young people getting drawn into crime.

The Violence Reduction Unit is being established after the Police Commissioner and Merseyside Police secured £3.37m from the Home Office to adopt a new public health-focussed approach to tackling serious violence in Merseyside. The new unit brings together local police, health and education professionals, community leaders and other key stakeholders to understand the causes of serious violence in Merseyside and agree a co-ordinated, evidence-based response.

The funding will be used on a number of short and long-term projects aimed at diverting people away from violence, including projects aimed at intervening when children are at risk of being excluded from school, criminal exploitation or committing serious violence. Key to this work is the sports sector, who can play a vital role in putting in place activities aimed at preventing young people from being involved with, or a victim, of crime.

Jane said: “Sport has the power to reach people of all ages and backgrounds, especially young people.

“We want to harness that power to inspire young people to choose positive activities that raise their aspirations, skills and goals and guide them away from making poor life choices.

“Here in Merseyside our sports clubs – from our world famous football teams to our boxing gyms, gymnastic classes, and martial arts clubs – already do fantastic work in the community, but we have only scratched the surface of the potential they hold.  There is no doubt they have a massive role to play in this new approach and now is the right time to expand their involvement as a powerful and positive force for good.

“Through this event, I hope we will discover opportunities to work more closely together to enhance the access to sport for young people.”

As well as the PCC, speakers at the event will include Merseyside Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Rob Carden and Violence Reduction Unit lead Supt Mark Wiggins, former Director of Public Health for Merseyside and the PCC’s public health advisor Prof. John Ashton, Everton in the Community’s CEO Richard Kenyon and the Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson.

Evidence-based examples of how sport is already making a difference by intervening in young people’s lives will be provided by Everton in the Community and the LFC Foundation, the official charities of both Everton and Liverpool Football Club, Anfield Boxing Club, disability charity Daisy Inclusive UK and the Torus Foundation. The event will conclude with a Q&A with the keynote speakers, before attendees will be invited on a tour of the facilities at Everton in the Community.

Merseyside Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Rob Carden: “This is an excellent opportunity for us to form even closer links with the wide variety of sports clubs that exist across Merseyside. We already work with a number of them particularly football and boxing clubs, but there are many others that can reach out to young people and assist in providing positive activities, education and mentoring as an alternative to antisocial behaviour and crime.”

Dr Matthew Philpott, Executive Director of the European Healthy Stadia Network said: “We are delighted to be working with the PCC for Merseyside on this pressing issue, as we are acutely aware of the positive impact sport and sports clubs can make on changing attitudes and behaviours amongst young people.

“We have worked for over a decade with sports organisations, taking an upstream, preventative approach to improving the health and wellbeing of fans, staff and the local populations near to clubs, and it is particularly encouraging to see that sports clubs are now taking a public health, evidence-based approach to addressing violent crime in Merseyside and beyond”.   

The Police Commissioner and Merseyside Police already work closely with Everton in the Community and the LFC Foundation, as well as the Princes Trust and the Shrewsbury House Youth Club through the joint Merseyside Youth Alliance project, which delivers early intervention programmes targeting young people aged 8-19 across Merseyside, particularly focusing on areas where violence is at a high.