Meet the youngest-ever head of Scotland's Violence Reduction Unit

Jimmy Paul, 34, grew up in the care system and says his own experience will shape how he tackles violent crime.

The youngest-ever head of Scotland’s Violence Reduction Unit says his own life experience of growing up in the care system will shape how he tackles crime.

Jimmy Paul, 34, told STV News that it’s easy for violence and trauma to become “normalised” in the lives of young people in residential care.

But the former campaigner believes his personal experience underlines how essential a preventative approach is.

He said: “Growing up in the care system, growing up in and around violence where family members were in prison for serious acts of violence.

“I was in residential care around young people who were committing acts of violence – and whose lives spiralled as a result of the trauma they experience.

The number of homicide victims in Scotland has fallen by 52% over the last 20 years.

“I know how easy it is to get into that way of living when it is so normalised around you.” 

Jimmy says youth community groups must be accessible to young people in every area of Scotland.

Figures show over the latest 20 year period from 2003-04 to 2022-23, the number of homicide victims in Scotland fell by 52% (or 57 victims) from 109 to 52.

The biggest reduction in homicide victims over the last 20 years has been amongst young people aged 16-24. In the five years between 2003-04 to 2007-08 there were 126 victims in this age range.

This dropped to 24 across the latest five years between 2018-19 to 2022-23.

Jimmy added: “If we take away youth work, that’s really short sighted – and we are likely to see levels of violence in that younger age group go up.”

Chantelle Conaghan, 19, said G20 community group gets her off the streets.

It’s just short of two decades since the VRU was founded – and its work has expanded significantly since then.

Chantelle Conaghan, 19, said before she started coming to the G20 community group in Glasgow’s Maryhill, she was often spending time on the streets.

She said: “When I was young there was a lot of violence and stuff like that.

“If I didn’t come here I think I would still be the same person I was back then – causing trouble and not making anything in life.

“I’ve made achievement in here – I’ve done my first aid training in here and other wee courses – it’s really good.”

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