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The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster has expressed his concern government funding has been pulled for a project designed to keep school children safe on their journey home from school.

Step Together places trained chaperones on some of the routes students most commonly take to get home after school. This is to increase their feelings of safety, while reducing the risk of harm, violence and anti-social behaviour.

Step Together chaperones are youth workers with training and expertise on how to de-escalate violence, and provide guidance and support to children and young people. They also work closely with the relevant local schools and police to help identify and respond to risks.

Out of the original 24 routes, 14 are now being funded locally by partners, such as councils and schools, but there are concerns that this funding will soon run out.

Whilst Step Together was always a pilot initiative, people and communities across the region have told the PCC it was making a difference.

Launched in October 2021, the scheme was initially funded by the Home Office and Youth Endowment Fund and co-ordinated locally by the West Midlands Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP).

The routes were identified using police and VRP data, which highlighted where violence was most likely to occur. Schools, young people and community members also helped to inform where along the route the chaperones would make the biggest difference.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster, said: “Ensuring our children and young people are safe and looked after is a top priority for the Violence Reduction Partnership.

“Research on Step Together indicates that it has boosted feelings of safety in the after-school period, and whilst I am pleased some local partners are stepping up to support the programme, we are still going to lose 10 routes, with a possibility that others could follow.

“It is essential that we invest in preventing, tackling and reducing violence and keeping our young people safe and secure.”

Tom Mcintosh from Sport Birmingham on behalf of MAD Birmingham, said: “Step Together utilises specialist youth workers that enable effective collaboration between the school, young people and the community, which makes places safer for all”.

The West Midlands Violence Reduction Partnership is a multi-agency unit that includes local authorities, education, health, probation, fire service, young people, faith and community groups as well as the police. All of these partners have been involved in bringing Step Together to the West Midlands.  

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