Meet the Team
The current VRU team are drawn from partners within the VRU and from different services within partner organisations.
Members of the team have experience and qualifications in crime investigation and intelligence, youth offending, adolescent early help and family support, youth work, education inclusion and attendance, data analysis and project management.
Our team currently consists of:
Claire Read - I have worked for Kent Police for over 30 years, with at least 20 years of analytical experience across various themes. In more recent years my roles have involved partnership working and using a collaborative approach in analysis to identify strategic and tactical aims with a focus on the vulnerability or criminality of young people
Beckee Barton (Currently on Maternity) - "I joined Kent Police as an Intelligence Analyst straight out of university in 2019. I was very briefly an analyst for the Knife and Firearms Team and then joined the VRU in November 2019. My work includes analysis of a wide range of intelligence, statistics and information from a range of partner agencies as well as police data. I create reports and provide recommendations to inform our coordinators and commissioned activity in order to reduce violent youth crime."
Lara Gifford - "I joined Kent Police as an Assistant Analyst in 2017 and became an Intelligence Analyst in 2019. I have experience across several teams such as Gangs and County Lines and Modern Slavery where I have been able to take part in a number of operations and specialised in comms data. I have joined the VRU and my current role consists of creating reports and analysing data for the violence reduction unit, whilst working together with partnerships."
Our coordinators cover divisional areas across Kent and Medway. The coordinators have a varied role which includes helping to commission services, run projects, attend partnership meetings and offer tactical advice to agencies working with young people. Each coordinator is also a SPOC (Single Point of Contact) for different focus areas. Here you will find who covers what area and a short message from each one:
Sharon McCauley (Medway) - "I have been seconded to the VRU from Medway Youth Service where I have been a youth worker for 19 years. My last 5 years was as a senior youth worker running a youth hub, outreach and detached programmes. Part of my original role was about building partnership work and I have been able to carry this experience over to the VRU. The voice of the child is extremely important to me and I want to give them every possible opportunity in life to raise their aspirations."
Emma Price (West Kent) - "I am currently seconded from the PRU, Inclusion and Attendance Service where I was previously an Education Welfare Officer before becoming an Inclusion and Attendance Advisor which is my substantive post. As such, I am well versed in multi-agency working to support children and young people access school to realise their potential whilst addressing familial and extra-familial harm. The public health approach within the VRU appealed to me and with a background in education, I have County-wide responsibility within the VRU of school-based initiatives across the County to test new approaches which may enhance pupil's resilience and aspirations whilst supporting staff to recognise root causes of behaviours for cultural change."
Caley Walden (South Kent) - "I have worked for Kent Police for over 17 years in various roles giving a range of experiences, but by far the most challenging and rewarding role was working directly with families and youths who came to the attention of the Police. Engaging, challenging behaviours, diverting and seeing them back into education, work and non-offending alongside any Partner agency that could support further. I have brought many of these experiences and contacts with me into the VRU to enhance a collaborative, creative approach to tackle issues, educate and create change."
Sharon Taylor (East Kent) - "I have worked for Kent Police for 20 years. I started my career managing victim and witness care and signposting support. For the last ten years, I worked with partner agencies and community services to locate and safeguard missing persons, support young people who have been exploited, or at risk of harm in the community. My experience of problem solving and innovating initiatives to shape a safer community, has been invaluable in my role in VRU."
Gary Painter (North Kent and Sevenoaks) - "I have worked for Kent Police since 2007 as a Police Community Support Officer and Supervisor, Police Officer and now I am in a Police Staff role. I have spent most of my time involved in partnership roles, working alongside District Councils, Early Help, Social Workers, Youth Justice Workers and Charities to help support young people in the community."
Business Support & Programme Officers
Susanne Blenkinsopp - "I am relatively new to Kent Police taking up the post of Administrative Assistant to the VRU after working for them on a voluntary basis for a couple of years. My previous roles have all been in the Education sector, providing Secretarial/Administration support to Schools and Colleges throughout Kent, County Durham and Belgium."
Lauren Barrett - "I joined in 2020 after attending a meeting where the VRU directors presented what the unit was designed for, and I knew I wanted to be part of the team. As the Programme Officer I liaise directly with our commissioned services and the Home Office to try and ensure that our funding is going to the right place and supporting as many young people across our county as possible. I love working as part of a team that always has people at the heart of everything that we do."
Emma Clark - "I have worked for Kent Police for over 20 years with operational knowledge and experience in crime management, as an investigator and team manager. All of my roles have involved working with partner agencies using a collaborative approach to tackle the issues faced."
Chief Inspector Lara Connor - "I have 22 years experience working for Kent Police, I have held a number of operational roles, mainly on the front line and within community safety units. I enjoy working with partners and have a passion for problem solving and working towards long term solutions for making our communities safer."
Kent County Council Director Mark Powell - "I began my career working with charities supporting those who needed housing for 9 years before joining the Youth Justice service in Kent County Council. I have held various youth justice posts including team and strategic development managerial roles and worked at Cookham Wood YOI for 2 years. I was also part of Early Help services between 2013 – 2017 and helped to design services and improve how children were prevented from being harmed. In 2012 I completed a Masters in Business Management which focussed on partnership working."