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Natalie Baker Swift
Interim Head of the VRU

Natalie has over 12 years experience working in policing including developing strategy, policy and governance at a local, regional and national level.  


Natalie was instrumental in designing and implementing the multi agency, public health approach to violence reduction in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire alongside the former Director of the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Violence Reduction Unit. She has lead on the day to day running of the VRU since 2019, until her appointment to Interim Head in July 2021.


Natalie lives in Nottinghamshire with her partner and black Labrador.

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Andrew Towning

Violence Reduction Unit

Project Support Officer

Andrew is a proud native of Nottingham and has worked for Public Health in Nottingham City Council since graduating from Politics at Nottingham Trent University in 2015.

Apart from his substantive role as an administrator, Andrew has contributed to, and run, many projects incuding the Novel Psychoactive Substances Professional Information Newwork (NPS PIN) and Autism Champions and he is currently co-chair of the Council's LGBT Employee Network.

Andrew particularly enjoys partnership work, engagement, public events, research and analysis and looks forward to using his experience in these areas to help make the Violence Reduction Unit a success.

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Rachel Miller

Young Person's Strategy and

Improvement Specialist

Rachel is Group Manager for Early Help and Youth Justice at Nottinghamshire County Council.

Rachel has over ten years experience of working with children and families in Nottingham.  She started her career in Education, as a teaching assistant at what was then Elliott Durham School in St. Ann's.

Rachel worked on the front line as a Family Intervention Project Practitioner in the City before moving to the County Council to manage various youth and family support teams before coming into her current role.

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Jacqueline Lockhart

Community Engagement Specialist

Jacqueline has over 35 years experience of working in the Voluntary Community and Youth Sectors. She worked in the public sector for 35 years in a variety of roles including Community and organisational development including training management. She also managed regeneration programmes and projects; and developed Community and School partnerships. 


She led on the Strategy for Parents and Carers in Nottingham during the implementation of Every Child Matters and developed resources for families at the former Department for Children, Families and Schools, helping to shape the national outcomes framework. She is an accredited Sector Specialist for working with Children and Families. 


Jacqueline Chairs the community based Ending Youth Violence Network. and the Rainbow Parents and Carers Forum for families of children with disabilities. She also represents the PCF at local. regional and national level. She has facilitated a young people's participation network. She is committed to tackling structural inequalities that lead to poorer outcomes for Children, young people and families.

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Helen Johnston
Consultant in Public Health

Helen has a background in community nutrition. She has focussed on reducing inequalities throughout her career.

Helen has been working in public health for eight years. This includes five years of specialty training in the East Midlands working across local authorities, NHS Trusts and PHE.

Alongside providing public health input to the VRU, Helen leads on mental health and substance misuse for the public health team at Nottingham City Council.

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Steve Harrison

Insight Specialist

Nottingham City Council

Steve’s work currently focuses on the links between criminality, exploitation, drugs and violence.  He is supporting the development of a Trauma Informed Strategy for the City and County.  He has worked in various roles in Nottingham including neighbourhood management and cohesion as well as in Community Protection work to tackle ASB, gangs, knife crime and modern slavery.


Prior to that he worked in community safety in South-East London.  He has an MA in Public Policy. He is keen to see the voice and experiences of communities, particularly young people included in research as well as data and professional expertise.

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Sarah Pearce

Business Support Officer


Sarah has previous experience in community adult education supporting adult learners and various voluntary roles.


Overcoming the difficulties of finding employment as a single parent Sarah went on to work for Nottingham City Council and study Business Administration. She now supports the VRU in a part time role.

Sarah is passionate about working with people and enjoys working with in the VRU team to achieve system change and improve outcomes for people in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.  Sarah’s role in the VRU is to provide business and administration support but she is also interested in issues such as Domestic violence/Abuse, Trauma informed practice and families. With her previous work experience, qualifications, continued personal development and lived experience, Sarah encourages discussions to explore various issues and enable coproduction and community engagement to prevent violence and reduce its effects in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.