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The Home Office and Youth Endowment Fund invest in new programme to help young people choose a life away from violence

  • The Home Office and Youth Endowment Fund invest £7 million in Focused Deterrence
  • US-inspired violence prevention programme rolls out in Coventry, Nottingham, Leicester, Manchester and Wolverhampton

Young people who are involved in violence will be given a new choice under a US-inspired programme rolling out in five English cities.

They’ll be offered help and opportunities to turn their backs on violence for good. But if the support is refused and they continue to make their communities unsafe, they’ll face consequences through the enforcement of tough sanctions.

The Home Office and the Youth Endowment Fund (YEF) are funding the new programme, investing £3 million and £4 million respectively. It uses a tried-and-tested approach known as ‘Focused Deterrence’. The approach was pioneered in Boston (USA) in the mid-1990s to address the escalation in gun-related murders. It was also used effectively in Glasgow in 2008 to tackle the city’s territorial gang violence problem.

Research has shown that – on average – Focused Deterrence strategies reduce crime by 33%. It’s been used in cities around the world to reduce violent crime. Now, it’s about to be adopted in Coventry, Nottingham, Leicester, Manchester and Wolverhampton.

Focused Deterrence brings together the police, local councils, community organisations, health services, schools, colleges and probation services. It works by identifying and targeting individuals (aged 14-years and over) in a local area who are involved – or are at risk of becoming involved – in serious violence. Then by drawing on the collective resources and expertise of the partners, individuals are offered tailored support. This could include mentoring, access to education, training and employment opportunities, mental health services, housing advice or other services that address underlying issues in their lives, relationships or neighbourhoods.

However, if the offer of support is turned down and their violent behaviour continues, swift police and legal sanctions will be enforced.

The delivery of the Home Office and YEF-funded programme will be led by the following organisations in each location:

  • The West Midlands Violence Reduction Partnership in Coventry and Wolverhampton
  • Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire Violence Reduction Unit in Nottingham
  • Violence Reduction Network in Leicester
  • Greater Manchester Violence Reduction Unit in Manchester

Delivery will start from May 2023 and continue until August 2025.

The Youth Endowment Fund’s mission is to find what works to prevent children and young people from becoming involved in violence and to build a movement to put this knowledge into practice. To learn more about Focused Deterrence, the charity has commissioned the University of Hull to evaluate the project’s impact across the five cities. The research will provide new insight into how the strategy can be adapted and adopted to reduce violent crime in the UK.

Policing Minister Chris Philp said: “In March 2019 the Home Office committed to supporting the Youth Endowment Fund with a ten-year mandate and £200 million of funding to help prevent young people becoming involved in violence.

“Focused deterrence is proven to reduce crime. This £7 million programme will offer young people a route out, combining community support and mentoring to encourage them to seek help, as well as swift enforcement action to divert them away from violence”.

Jon Yates, Executive Director at the Youth Endowment Fund, said: “Focused Deterrence has worked around the world – reducing crime by over 30%. It’s time to know whether it can work in England. Violence is not inevitable – we can bring it down. The important thing is not about being tough on crime or being soft on crime. The important thing is being smart on crime – we need to do what works.”

Find out more about Focused Deterrence

To find out more about Focused Deterrence and its impact on reducing violence, visit the YEF Toolkit – a free online resource that summarises the best available research on what works to reduce youth violence.