Who are we?

Part of Police Scotland and directly funded by the Scottish Government with an annual budget of around £1million, the SVRU works to identify innovative, evidence-based solutions to violence. Our team is made up of police officers, civilian police staff and people who are experts by experience. We work closely with colleagues and partners across health, education, social work, housing and many other fields.

Our history

The then Violence Reduction Unit was founded in 2005 by Strathclyde Police, who in the face of rising homicide rates wanted to try a different approach to reducing violence. That year Scotland had been branded the most violent country in the developed world with 137 homicides in just one year, some 41 of those deaths were 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 with a 35% reduction in homicides between 20/11 and 2019/20. Glasgow city accounted for 41% of that fall. The VRU was made a national unit in 2006.

Learn more about our history

Our approach

Our vision

How we work to reduce violence

What we don't do

The SVRU are not part of response policing and in an emergency you should always dial 999. The SVRU take a long-term approach to violence reduction through prevention work.

The unit are not service providers. We look to develop small scale interventions where possible to test and evaluate them for effectiveness. When successful these initiatives are scaled up through the appropriate partners.

Niven Rennie


Telephone: 01786 896785          Email: violence.reduction@scotland.pnn.police.uk

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.