Bedfordshire's Violence and Exploitaiton Reduction Unit Just Drop It


Our Impact

Everything we do at the VERU is underpinned by impact, analysis and data.

Our team has led the development of both the Bedfordshire Violence and Exploitation Strategic Needs Assessment, to better understand these issues across our county, as well as the Violence and Exploitation Reduction Strategic Response.

Public Health Approach

violence and exploitation are key public health issues across the entire county of Bedfordshire, influencing the health and wellbeing of our population and leading to significant health inequalities

Violence and exploitation can have an impact right across the life course, with potentially devastating consequences.

Whilst many people survive their experience of violence and/or exploitation, the impact that it has on their physical and mental health and wellbeing can be long lasting and severe.

We believe that violence and exploitation are preventable and our aim is to stop them before they start and to improve the health and wellbeing of our population. To achieve this we need to take a whole-system multi-agency approach.

We need to continue to work together, across multiple agencies and organisational boundaries, to identify and address the root causes and drivers, and promote factors that protect individuals from becoming involved in violence and exploitation in the first place.

We also need to be able to identify those people who are at risk of committing violent crimes, or being a victim of violence and/or exploitation, at an early stage and intervene early.

Our Annual Impact Report

2023/24 Annual Impact Report

Over the past 12 months, the VERU has reached nearly 14,000 young people in person across the county through direct deliveries and our commissioned projects, as well as almost 2,000 professionals. If you add in social media, our flagship Just Drop It campaign reached at least 55,000 different accounts from our own channels, appeared on profiles with more than 500,000 followers combined, while generating close to 150,000 views among 13 to 17-year-olds in Bedfordshire alone.

These are impressive numbers and the collective effort of the VERU as part of the whole systems approach to tackling violence and exploitation in Bedfordshire I am sure has changed and probably saved lives. Things like knife crime and gang exploitation are well below the levels they were before the VERU was established, which is a source of immense pride …

VERU Annual Impact Report Cover

2022/23 Annual Impact Report

Our 2022/23 Annual Impact Report summarises some of the exceptional work we have accomplished over the past 12 months, including a review of our pilot project to tackle absenteeism in schools, the impact of some hard hitting campaigns as well as the work of our Youth Intervention Specialist team and commissioned projects.

Key activities and deliverables throughout 2022/23 included supporting a pilot project t0 tackle long-term absenteeism with the OPCC, with the aim of disrupting of long-term absenteeism from school leaving young people vulnerable to criminal exploitation and engagement with the judicial system. The success of the project can be directly attributable to the VERU and our YIS team and the support of commissioned service, Dan Gaze Support Services, which has been strategically placed directly into schools. The VERU hosted a highly successful visit from the Home Office in January 2023, and in March 2023 hosted the Bedfordshire Hope Hack in Luton, which was attended by local school pupils and young people up to the age of 24.

One notable success was our partnership in the Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner’s Youth Conference, for Year 9 students across Bedfordshire which ran February – March 2023. The free event was run in conjunction with Bedfordshire’s VERU and aimed to help young people to understand the impact that their actions and choices can have on the rest of their life, whilst inspiring, informing and empowering them to be part of the solution in reducing crime in Bedfordshire. The events were a huge success with 280 attendees over the 3 days, plus 87 professionals.

Front cover of the VERU annual report

Evalutation of The Bedfordshire Violence and Exploitaiton Reduction Unit (VERU)

Assessing the impact of The VERU

The University of Bedfordshire were commissioned to conduct an evaluation of the VERU with the aim of assessing our impact and indicating areas for review. 

The evaluation aims to measure our impact in line with the the strategic priorities identified our Strategic Needs Assessment and core objectives, namely:

  • Preventing violence and exploitation before it begins
  • Criminal Justice enforcement and rehabilitation
  • Manage and reduce risks for those involved in violence and exploitation
  • Early detection and intervention

The evaluation activities carried out by the University of Bedfordshire included:

  • Further developing our Theory of Change
  • Understanding and evaluating the activities and impact of our commissioned services
  • Exploring multi-agency working across Bedfordshire, focusing on the role of the VERU within the system

Produced by

Alice Yeo, Safer Young Lives Research Centre, with Dr Nenadi Adamu, Dr Isabelle Brodie, Dr Andrew Malcolm, Dr Sandra Roper, Jonathan South and Dr Roma Thomas, School of Applied Social Sciences, University of Bedfordshire


Evaluation of the Bedfordshire Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU)

This report sets out the findings from an evaluation of the Bedfordshire (Beds) Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) carried out by the University of Bedfordshire between September to December 2023.

Violence Reduction Units, year ending March 2022 evaluation report

Assessing the impact of VRU's

In 2019, the Home Office announced that 18 police force areas (PFAs) would receive funding to establish (or build upon existing) Violence Reduction Units (VRUs) as part of the Serious Violence Fund. The aim of VRUs is to lead and coordinate a preventative, whole-system approach to violence reduction, which comprises:

  • Multi-agency working
  • Data sharing and analysis
  • Engaging young people and communities
  • Commissioning (and delivering) evidence-based interventions.

The Serious Violence Fund also covers Grip (formerly Surge) activity, which is enforcement focused. Combined, VRU and Grip funding represents a total investment of £254 million across the years (1 April to 31 March) 2019 to 2020 and 2021 to 2022 to tackle Serious Violence (SV)[footnote 1]. The Home Office originally selected 18 areas and allocated funding amounts based on levels of SV between the years ending March 2016 to March 2018.

The Home Office commissioned Ecorys UK, Ipsos UK, the University of Hull and the University of Exeter to evaluate VRUs in their third year of operation (April 2021 to March 2022). The aims of the evaluation were to:

  • Estimate the impact of VRUs on violence
  • Assess the progress made by VRUs towards a whole-system approach

The mixed-methods evaluation included desk-based research, qualitative research with a range of stakeholders in each VRU, and quasi-experimental designs.


Violence Reduction Units, year ending March 2022 evaluation report

Overall, VRUs made good progress towards a whole-systems approach. Building on progress made in previous years, VRUs showed signs of maturing and becoming embedded in local responses to prevent violence.

Data & Insight

VERU in View

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Scroll to Top