The award for 2012 was presented by Paolo during the conference, to the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit. The citation for the award stated that it was given “for their collaborative efforts to develop innovative and sustainable solutions to the deep rooted problems of violence associated with drug and alcohol use for individuals and their communities”.
In Scotland violence is a chronic problem, including that related to alcohol and drug misuse. Although overall levels of crime have fallen in the West of Scotland, levels of violent crime, in particular knife crime, have remained relatively constant for the last 40 years.
In response to concern about violent crime, particularly rising levels of knife crime, in January 2005 Strathclyde Police established the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) to target all forms of violent behaviour, in particular knife crime and weapon carrying among young men in and around Glasgow. In April 2006 the Unit’s remit was extended nationwide by the Scottish Executive, creating a national centre of expertise on tackling violence.
Adopting the public health approach as described in the WHO's World Report On Violence and Health (2002), the unit has simple aims: to reduce violent crime and behaviour by working with partner agencies to achieve long-term societal and attitudinal change, and, by focusing on enforcement, to contain and manage individuals who carry weapons or who are involved in violent behaviour.
The VRU is headed by co-directors Detective Chief Superintendent John Carnochan QPM and Karyn McCluskey.