Public Health, Youth & Violence Reduction

Summary

The study responds to the urgent social problem of rising youth violence. England and Wales have seen marked increases in homicide, knife crime, and hospital admissions for stab-wounds, with particular concentrations in the city of London.

In recent years the ‘public health’ approach to violence reduction has gained increasing currency, most recently in the funding of 18 new regional Violence Reduction Units in England and Wales. Recent interest in this approach, which seeks to address violence using principles of prevention and education rather than policing and justice, stems primarily from Scotland, where radical reductions in violent crime over the last decade have been attributed to the adoption of a public health model.

There is however a lack of clear understanding of ‘what worked’ in the Scottish context. While there have indeed been marked declines in youth violence, the mechanisms that have driven this decrease are poorly understood. There is confusion over what public health approaches are, how they work, and the conditions under which such ideas can travel. As a result, despite significant potential, the implications of the public health approach remain vague.

The study will be delivered in three work-streams over a three year period and will look at what worked in Scotland, track public health policy development and create a practitioner toolkit.

Research Team

The project PI is Alistair Fraser, with co-Investigators Keir Irwin-Rogers (Open University), Susan McVie  (University of Edinburgh) and Tim Newburn (London School of Economics). Administrative assistance, and communications/knowledge-exchange support, will be provided by the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research.

This project is funded by the ESRC.