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.

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.