Scottish Violence Reduction Unit

The Scottish Violence Reduction Unit is a national centre of expertise in tackling violence. Working in partnership with Police Scotland and the Scottish Government, the SVRU aims to prevent violence wherever it’s found from the streets, to our classrooms, homes and workplaces.  

The SVRU adopted a public health approach which treats violence as a disease. We seek to diagnose and analyse the root causes of violence in Scotland, then develop and evaluate solutions which can be scaled-up across the country.  

From the Navigators working in hospital emergency departments who connect with patients affected by violence, to social enterprise Street & Arrow which serves up second chances to people with convictions, the SVRU are constantly innovating with the aim to make Scotland the safest country in the world.  

The unit was founded in 2005 by Strathclyde Police, who in the face of rising homicide rates wanted to try a different approach to tackling violence. That year Scotland had been branded the most violent country in the developed world, with 137 murders in just one year, with 41 of those deaths in the city of Glasgow alone. Following a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) the city was dubbed the “murder capital” of Europe.  

Since then, Scotland has worked hard and seen homicides fall to their lowest level since 1976. Latest figures show a 39% decrease over the last decade. However, despite the improvements made, violence remains a chronic problem for our country with domestic abuse and sexual violence growing concerns.  

Expanded to a national unit in 2006, the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit is directly funded by the Scottish Government with an annual budget of a million pounds. Our team is made up of serving police officers, civilian police staff, experts and people with lived experience work closely with colleagues and partners across health, education, social work and many other fields. 

We are motivated by the belief that violence is preventable, not inevitable. 

Meet the team

Niven Rennie


VRU headshot shoot at Grain Store Studios

Pic:Andy Barr

Copyright Andrew Barr Photography.
No reuse without permission.
+44 7974923919

Will Linden

Alastair Muir

Khadija Coll

Niven Rennie


Telephone: 01786 896785          Email:

Niven has more than 30 years of operational policing experience in the United Kingdom. He joined Strathclyde Police in 1985 serving throughout the west of Scotland in a variety of ranks and positions before progressing to the rank of Chief Superintendent. Niven previously held the role of President of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents where he represented the interests of the operational leaders of policing in Scotland.

On leaving Police Scotland in 2016 Niven took up the position of Chief Executive Officer of South Ayrshire Escape from Homelessness (SeAscape).

Niven was appointed director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit in July 2018.

Will Linden

Deputy Director

Telephone: 01786 896796          Email:

Will has been with Police Scotland for more than 13 years. Since being appointed to the Violence Reduction Unit in March 2005 he has been involved in a number of projects including the development of the Homicide/Deaths Database and CIRV (Community Initiative to Reduce Violence), Injury Surveillance, Mentors in Violence Prevention, Employability/Desistence programmes and has provided much of the research and strategy development in support of the Violence Reduction Strategy for Scotland.

Will specialises in behavioural and geographic analysis of violence and received a number of awards from the Association for Geographic Information (AGI) and the National Police Improvement Agency (NPIA), for his work. Will has promoted the work of the VRU and his research at both a national and international level. Will previously served as acting director of the unit for 18 months.


Alastair Muir

Deputy Director

Telephone: 01786 896787          Email:

Alastair joined the SVRU in 2018 and took on an overview of the unit’s projects. He is also developing new work around his own specialist areas.

Alastair has served in both the Metropolitan and Strathcylde Police Services prior to the formation of Police Scotland. The majority of his work has been in the operational environment within Greater Glasgow policing division. In 2008 he relocated to Thailand with his family where he managed a project tackling human trafficking and child protection. Alastair returned to policing in 2012. Prior to the VRU, he was lead for equality, diversity and community engagement for Police Scotland.

He is passionate about integration and has volunteered with a refugee support group for the past four years providing inputs on policing, law, gender equality and radicalisation.


Khadija Coll

One Community project lead


Khadija leads the One Community project which engages with Glasgow’s African community. Khadija has worked with refugees and asylum seekers in Scotland and Africa for more than 25 years. She is a long time campaigner against FGM and gender based violence and led the succesful campaign to legislate in Scotland against FGM. She has previously been nominated for ‘Scots Woman of the Year’ for her work in this area.