Scottish Violence Reduction Unit

At the SVRU we’re all about teamwork. From youth projects and schools to the NHS, prison service, government at every level and most importantly communities we look for opportunities to support and learn from others.

Here’s just some of the inspiring work we’re proud to be involved with around Scotland:


The award-winning Community Reach and Inclusion Bus (CRIB) is a mobile community centre which takes support, advice and music into the heart of neighbourhoods in and around Edinburgh.

Run by social enterprise Heavy Sound the out-of-service single decker bus was bought for £1 and transformed into an outreach unit by the inmates of HMP Edinburgh in partnership with the Scottish Prison Service. In 2019 the project won a prestigious Butler Trust Award, which recognises excellence in the prisons, probation and youth justice system.

The bus has also been kitted out with recording equipment to enable Heavy Sound to run music activities with young people in their own neighbourhoods. CEO and lead practitioner Jordan Butler said, “If we can use rap, hip hop or song-writing to engage with troubled young people we can help turn their lives around too.”

The SVRU are delighted to be able to support the project. Insp James Gray of the SVRU, said: “The Crib has been a real lifeline for communities and for young people throughout the pandemic. It’s a safe place for them to hang out as well as offering invaluable support and advice to families and local people.”

You can find out more about Heavy Sound and the Crib here.

Transition to Trade – TtT – aims to help youngsters in Dundee find work in the construction industry. Run by Alexander Community Developments the programme aims to provide 24 places for S3 – S5 high school pupils in the city. During the six-week programme candidates develop practical workplace skills to help them gain qualifications and a sense of achievement. Following training pupils take part in a large-scale project to renovate a building in their local community. Participants also receive help with CVs and a chance to take part in mock interviews.

A spokesperson for the programme said: “One of the aims is to remove some of the barriers that young people frequently face, such as not having the required qualifications, or experiencing challenging home circumstances.”

The SVRU are delighted to be able to provide funding support for the project, along with partners. Commenting Inspector Catherine Lannen, who runs the SVRU’s Tayside hub, said: Transition to Trade is a great project which gives young people in Dundee the chance to gain practical skills, work experience and crucially, confidence in their own abilities. We are delighted to support Alexander Community Development on this exciting initiative which offers young people a sense of hope for their future opportunities.”

Any young person interested in engaging in the programme should speak with their DYW coordinator/Skills Development Scotland coordinator or guidance teacher.

Heartstone Story Circles is an educational programme which celebrates diversity. Backed by award-winning actor Sir Derek Jacobi it uses a fantasy children’s novel to discuss issues such as tolerance and respect for different communities in a safe and controlled space.

The project is led by Heartstone director Sitakumari, a classically trained Indian dancer who has performed around the world. She uses storytelling dance to help engage with the children. Sita, who has been based in Dingwall for more than twenty years, said: “The Heartstone Odyssey books have been written to entertain. They are a story for children that adults too can enjoy and as with all great timeless stories will leave you seeing the world in a different way forever, celebrating our common humanity.”

The SVRU are pleased to be one of the partners supporting the roll out of the programme in schools in the north of Glasgow, Dundee and Ayrshire.
Commenting on the initiative SVRU director Niven Rennie said: “The earlier we engage with children about accepting and celebrating each other’s differences the better. Heartstone Story Circles offer a way to do this in a fun, safe and engaging manner.”

You can find out more about Heartstone here.

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.