New research reveals preventing serious violence could save Merseyside more than £200m a year

An aerial shot of terraced streets in Mereyside

A new report looking into the complex causes and impact of violence in Merseyside has revealed that preventing violent incidents could save the region more than £200million.

The report, 'The economic and social costs of violence on Merseyside' is the latest assessment of how much violence costs the police and criminal justice, the healthcare system, and how much money is lost due to those affected being unable to work, as well as the physical and emotional harm.

The in-depth review was commissioned by Merseyside’s Violence Reduction Partnership (MVRP) to help inform their work to prevent and reduce serious violence and was carried out by Liverpool John Moores University Public Health Institute (LJMU PHI).

The report supports the approach taken by the MVRP and supported by the Police and Crime Commissioner and Merseyside Police to fund and deliver programmes focused on early intervention to prevent violence, keep communities safe and reduce the financial burden on the region.

It also adds further weight to the importance of investing in prevention, following a review by the Home Office which showed for every £1 spent in serious violence prevention work, there was a return of £4.10 in savings to society.

Since it was established, the MVRP has invested in £20m into violence prevention and the results are already evident from the reductions in the three key criteria used by the Home Office to evaluate their success:

  • 31% reduction in the number of under 25s admitted to hospital with an injury due to a knife or sharp object.
  • Knife-enabled serious violence related to under 25s has decreased by nearly 14%
  • No non-domestic homicides, involving a knife of a person, under 25 since November 2021

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner, Emily Spurrell, said: “The impact of violence on our region cannot be underestimated. It brings misery, suffering and heartache to all those it touches and, as this report confirms, it also brings with it a huge economic burden too.

“All of this reinforces how essential it is to try and prevent crime from happening in the first place. It’s vital we invest in initiatives and programmes that get upstream and stop young people going down a path which could lead to violence and that’s why the work of our Violence Reduction Partnership is so critical.

“Over the past five years this team has helped to spearhead the work to prevent crime and the results are clear to see – serious violence is decreasing.

“This are no quick fixes though, and if we are to push it down even further, we need guaranteed funding for the MVRP for the future – way beyond the current end point of March 2025. The Government must commit to a long-term investment in these vital teams if we are to protect families and communities and save our region money.”

MVRP’s Director Superintendent Georgie Garvey said: “We firmly believe that violence is preventable and by working with young people right from birth through to the age of 25, we know we can reduce serious violence later down the line.

“Evidence shows we are heading in the right direction, but there is always more we can do, and this report once again highlights why it is so important we invest in early intervention and prevention, delivering programmes that will reduce violence in our communities and protect future generations while also reducing the financial burden on our region.”

Professor Zara Quigg from LJMU added: “Violence places substantial impacts on the health and wellbeing of communities, and this report demonstrates the economic impact this has on public services.

“Such evidence is vital for advocating for investment and the implementation of a public health approach to preventing violence, that addresses the underlying causes to prevent violence and improve health and well-being in the long-term”.

Figures in the report show, as well as the suffering and emotional toll suffered by families and communities, the total budget for policing, support for victims, the courts, prisons and offender management was more than £143m.

The study estimates a further £33.5m was spent by the healthcare system treating the consequences of violence. This includes the costs of A&E attendances, ambulance call outs and hospital admissions, with a further £21m being spent on the treatment for the emotional impact of violence.

It also found:

  • £3.5m is allocated to supporting victims and survivors.
  • Putting serious cases through the criminal justice system cost more than £90m over the year.
  • Almost 6,000 people attending A&E department across the region following assaults.
  • £1.2m is spent on emergency hospital admissions following violence.
  • More than 10,500 people in employment were victims or survivors of violence leading to £12.8m in lost paid work.

While the cost of violence to the police and criminal justice system have not increased, this figure includes greater funding secured by the Police and Crime Commissioner to support victims and survivors and to prevent crime.

The increase has also been driven by more funding being allocated to counselling for issues such as anxiety and depression following a crime.

Read the full report: The economic and social costs of violence on Merseyside

What is the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership?

In total, 20 Violence Reduction Units (VRUs) have been established across England and Wales to help deliver the Government’s Serious Violence Strategy to tackle knife and gun crime and homicide.

Police and Crime Commissioners lead on commissioning these multi-agency units in their areas, bringing together strategic partners to deliver system-wide interventions to prevent and reduce crime.

In Merseyside, we renamed our unit to the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP) because we believe the word ‘partnership’ reflects the way we work and approach this challenge.

The VRP brings together Merseyside Police, Merseyside Fire and Rescue, local government, National Probation Service, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the county’s Youth Offending Service, health and education professionals, community leaders and other key partners, all with the aim of reducing and preventing serious violence.

Find out more at the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership website.