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Dave Wakelin

Violence Reduction

Unit Director

Dave is currently the Director for Health and Wellbeing at Gedling Borough Council.  Prior to taking up this role in 2012 he was a Senior Police officer in Nottinghamshire having served in the organisation for 32 years.

Dave has a long history of successful partnership working, developing and supporting projects for substance misuse and young people across the County and was seconded from the police to the Youth Justice Board whilst a Superintendent to lead on the Board's national prevention programmes.

Dave was instrumental in leading within the County both the development and implementation of Restorative Practice and Integrated Offender Management between 2001 and 2006.

Dave lives in the County with his family and is a long standing Vice-Chair of Governors at a large academy.

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Natalie Baker Swift

Programme Manager Violence Reduction
Early Intervention

Natalie is Programme Manager for countywide violence reduction and early intervention initiatives in Nottinghamshire. 

Natlie comes from a background in policing, with ten years of experience working in programme management, strategic planning and corporate governance.

Natalie started her career as a researcher at Nottinghamshire Police and has since been responsible for delivering internal change programmes and supporting various regional and national projects.

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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

Acting Consultant in Public Health

Nottingham City Council

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 nearly 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 is an Acting Consultant in Public Health with Nottingham City Council where her responsibilities include oral health, sexual health, and supporting the COVID-19 response.

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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.