SCOTLAND must do more to break the cycle of violence by tackling the issue in the same way it has fought covid-19, according to a specialist police force.

The Scottish Violence Reduction Unit (SVRU) has called for a major public health push to drive down violence in homes and on our street as it launches a new Glasgow pilot project.

Made up of mentors with lived experience and specialist training, the You Decide Team (YDT) is a confidential service helping people access support with addiction, housing, employment or more complex needs.

Glasgow Times: Keith Brown MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Veterans Justice, with Emily Cutts, director of the Children's Wood charity and G20 with a work by street artist Panda who is artist in residence at G20 and who created the You Decide Team artwork on

YDT project lead Callum Hutchison said: “I know so many young men who desperately want to leave that life behind.

"It’s just so difficult to see a way out sometimes.

"Well, there is an exit and there are amazing people and organisations who are ready to help.

"It’s about taking that first step and reaching out.

"The YDT just brings people together in one space and you can then decide on the support you need.

Glasgow Times: Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie  Picture: Colin Mearns

"There’s no judgement and it’s 100% confidential.

"One day or day one. You decide.”

Trainee mentor Shaun knew his life had to change after seeing other young men he knew die because of the issues they faced.

A year ago, at the age of 25, he couldn’t see a future for himself.

He sought help after things reached a crisis point and following a successful period in recovery he contacted the YDT and now has a home of his own, a job and his family back in his life.

He said: "I look to the future and it blows my mind because of the opportunities I have.

"It would have been an achievement if I had seen my thirtieth birthday.

Glasgow Times: Keith Brown MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Veterans Justice, with street artist Panda who is artist in residence at G20  Picture: Colin Mearns

"I was unemployable. Nobody would touch me with my convictions, but in the space of a year my whole life has transformed.

"I look to the future and it blows my mind because of the opportunities I’ve got.

"A lot of people like me, boys that I knew, have died so I’m under no illusions about how lucky I am.

"But I also know how much hard work I put in to get here, this just didn’t happen overnight it was a process.

"See if you really want it - you’ll get it.”

The YDT, run in partnership with social enterprise Braveheart Industries, grew from a group run by Callum at the G20 Youth Festival, engaging with vulnerable young people in the north of Glasgow.

Glasgow Times: Panda, who is artist in residence at G20, pictured with apprentice youth workers Shantelle, left, and Dionne at right  Picture: Colin Mearns

Run by the Children’s Wood charity, G20 has helped provide food and support to the local community throughout the pandemic.

Short videos based on the experiences of those who have successfully escaped a violent lifestyle will be running in Glasgow and Dundee over the coming weeks.

They will encourage those affected to access bespoke support pages - at - offering guidance towards key local and national support services.

The team is made up of navigators with lived experience of many issues such as violence and addiction.

According to the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2019/20 some 65% of all violent crime happens to just 0.1% of the population in Scotland.

These repeat victims of violence can suffer up to five or more incidents.

Many of them are young men living in deprived socioeconomic neighbourhoods who may alternate between being the victim or perpetrator of such incidents.

Meanwhile, the SVRU has launched its five-year strategic plan A Safer Scotland For All.

At the core of the strategy is a public health model using an evidence-based approach to target the root causes of violence.

The SVRU was the first ever police member of the World Health Organisation’s Violence Prevention Alliance and is a global leader in public health policing.

Director Niven Rennie said: "We’ve seen how effective following the science can be in the battle against Covid-19.

"We must now apply the lessons learned over the last year in our fight to reduce violence and create a safer and healthier Scotland for all."

“Everyone has had a role in tackling the pandemic, whether that was medics in our intensive care units or all of us doing our bit by wearing a mask and washing our hands.

"When it comes to reducing violence, we all have a part to play.

"It will take a massive team effort to protect children from trauma, prevent young people joining gangs or ensure that our homes and neighbourhoods are a place of safety rather than abuse.

"This isn’t just a job for the police any more than fighting Covid-19 is just a job for the NHS.”

Glasgow Times: Niven Rennie, director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit,  Picture: Colin Mearns

The big decreases in non-sexual violence initially seen in Scotland since 2005 have levelled off in recent years with the number of murders in the country remaining relatively stable.

There have been between 59 and 64 homicide cases recorded each year since 2012/13.

Covid-19 is highly likely to have had an impact upon violence in Scotland, which the unit says will require an evidence-based response.

Mr Rennie said: “We know that if routes out of this vicious cycle of violence can be found for these young men then we can make life safer not just them, but for their families and their communities.

“The YDT is all about joining the dots between the fantastic services that already exist in these areas and ensuring no one falls through the cracks.

"We’re following the data and working as a team to do our part to make Scotland the safest country in the world.

"If the last year has taught us anything it’s that life-saving achievements are possible when we pull together."