Scottish Violence Reduction Unit

Youth violence is a public health problem which when non fatal, still has serious and often a lifelong impact on a person’s physical, psychological and social functioning, as well as affecting the victims’ families, friends and communities. 

The second in a series of online discussions hosted by the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, join our Deputy Director Will Linden and the panel Daryl Lyon, Graeme Armstrong and Whitney Iles as they discuss the issues and challenges around youth violence including how can we best support and protect to ensure all young people can have the best start in life, do we judge young people by different standards and whether decision makers understand what it means to be young and living in Britain today. 

Date: Wednesday 17th June 2020

Time: 4pm to 5:30pm (BST)

Registration: There is no need to book a place. To watch the event live go to our Facebook Page: The Scottish Violence Reduction Unit @actiononviolence or head over to YouTube vruscotlandDon’t forget to send us your questions to put to the panel. If there’s something you would like to ask, simply message us before the 15th June via Facebook, Twitter or email

Who is joining us: 

Whitney Illes

Whitney holds multiple professional roles, including CEO of Project 507 and has over 17 years of experience as a front-line practitioner working with young people and communities affected by violence. Her experience expands across the community and criminal justice system, having worked in several prison estates with high-risk individuals.

She has trained in forensic psychodynamic and organisational psychotherapy at the Tavistick and Portman Clinic and Association for Psychodynamic Practice and Counselling in Organisational Settings. Her specialist focus is on violence and trauma using a psychoanalytic framework, which influences her work as both practitioner and trainer. In 2019, Whitney completed an MSc in violence, conflict and development at SOAS.

She is currently studying for an MSc in Psychology and Neuroscience of mental health at King’s College London, as well as a Diploma in Naturopathic Nutrition at the College of Naturopathic Medicine.

Inspector Daryl Lyon

Daryl is a Police Inspector and the founder of the Community Initiative to reduce Violence (CIRV) program in Northamptonshire, a program based on the program of the same name from the Scottish VRU. CIRV Northamptonshire is the first time this type of approach has been used with county lines and wider exploitation issues anywhere internationally. Started in February 2019, CIRV Northamptonshire has received over 1300 referrals and has been independently evaluated by the College of Policing as being a hugely successful program. CIRV uses highly skilled staff to build trust based relationships between police and those they support to help change their lives for the better. CIRV also employs those with lived experience, family support workers, careers advisors life coaches and employee support staff to get those who engage the best start. CIRV also responds 24/7 to those in their teachable moment no matter where they are located in the UK.

Daryl has been in various policing roles over the past 14 years from neighbourhood policing to response and violence reduction programs and is also a hostage and crisis negotiator. It was in July 2018 that Daryl proposed the CIRV program to Northamptonshire Police to tackle the quickly growing program of violence and county lines. Daryl first visited the VRU in Scotland in 2015 which changed his view on how policing should deal with such challenges and inspired this program.

Over 10 forces have come to learn from CIRV in its first year of operation and Thames Valley Police are about to start a CIRV program of their own based on Northamptonshire’s approach.

Graeme Armstrong

Graeme Armstrong is a Scottish writer from Airdrie. His teenage years were spent within North Lanarkshire’s gang culture. Alongside overcoming his own struggles with drug addiction, alcohol abuse and violence, he defied expectation to read English as an undergraduate at the University of Stirling; where, after graduating with honours, he returned to study a Masters’ in Creative Writing. He is aiming to commence a Doctorate between English and Criminology in 2021.

He volunteers within the community visiting prisons and schools, giving talks on his experiences of gang-culture and substance abuse – and promotes a message of anti-violence and abstinence-based recovery.

His debut novel, THE YOUNG TEAM, is inspired by his experiences, and Picador published in March 2020.

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.