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Building safer neighbourhoods: our approach to focusing our place-based work

By Gail Gibbons (Head of Place-Based Impact and Partnerships), Lottie Louette (Data Analyst) and Will Teager (Head of Data and Insight), Youth Endowment Fund 

Late last year, we launched the Youth Endowment Fund’s (YEF) strategy. It’s an ambitious plan to find out what really helps prevent children becoming involved in violence and will make their lives safer.

When we were developing our plans, it became clear that a lot of violent crime happens in very specific local areas. So, to make a difference, we committed to place-based funding, including our Neighbourhood Fund. Working in small areas, the Fund will help us understand the challenges and opportunities communities are facing, then co-design, test and evaluate solutions that respond to their local needs and context. We want to learn whether this type of approach can work, particularly in areas where there are higher numbers of children involved in crime and violence.

The report we’ve launched today, Building safer neighbourhoods, explains how we’ve tried to find those areas of high need, where violence is more common. This wasn’t an easy task, because there’s no single way to go about doing this. In the report, we outline the analysis we’ve used, some of the judgements and trade-offs we’ve made and the final methodology we’ve settled on.

How we selected our first Neighbourhood Fund areas

While a lot of crime happens in small local areas, our ability to identify the specific streets, where it happens is limited by the data we can access. When we were looking at different datasets, we found that the more detail there was (i.e. the more a dataset tells us about the ages of victims and perpetrators or the type of crime that’s been committed) the less likely it is to present information at a highly local level (for example, a ward rather than a whole council area).

This meant that, for our purposes, the most relevant data is published by the Youth Justice Board (YJB). The YJB data contains information about offences committed by children specifically. And it includes detail about the types of offences committed. It’s all held at a Youth Offending Team level, which broadly maps onto local authority areas.

Using this data worked for us, because it aligns with our mission to prevent children becoming involved in violence and it’s transparent and simple.

As a result, the five areas we’ve chosen for the first round of the Neighbourhood Fund are:

  • Birmingham
  • Manchester
  • Norfolk
  • Bradford
  • Cardiff

These areas are those that have both the highest absolute numbers of violent offences, as well as high rates per head. We also chose our methodology to ensure we picked a range of different areas across England and Wales. This means we’ll be able to test what works to address a range of local issues.

If we had selected a different approach to rank local authorities there would have been some differences in which came out on top. But, of the five approaches considered, there was a large amount of overlap. This means we’re confident in our results.

What happens next?

We hope that, by publishing our methods, we’ll provide transparency in the thinking behind our decisions to launch the first round of the Neighbourhood Fund in these five areas. We’ve already started to recruit partners to help us find the really local areas (like a few streets, row of shops, park, or transport hub) where residents and other local partners would like us to invest.

In future, we’re going to run more two more rounds of the Neighbourhood Fund, funding in total. In 2022, we’ll review the approach we took this time and we’re open to different options for selecting hyper-local delivery areas.

Throughout the life of the fund, we want to keep improving the way we do things. We hope that our report has been a useful insight into our method – we’d really like to hear from you if you have any ideas about how we can improve our approach. That way, we can make sure we’re doing the best we can to work with local partners and keep the children who live in their areas safe.

If you’d like a bit more information, our FAQs might help. And if you have a question we haven’t answered, get in touch with us:

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