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Place-based approaches to tackling local youth violence

At the Youth Endowment Fund, all our funding is done to build a better understanding of what works to reduce youth violence.

We do this in three ways: by evaluating the impact of specific approaches or interventions (through our themed grant rounds); by testing approaches that are promising or widely used, but lack evidence (through our targeted projects); and by testing local partnerships and collaborations working in targeted neighbourhoods of England and Wales (through our place-based funding). It was the latter approach we were keen to explore in our latest evidence review.

Place-based approaches to tackling local youth violence: A review of evidence on models, implementation and impacts

When we talk about place-based approaches (PBAs), we define it as an:

Organised effort across a defined geography to prevent children and young people becoming involved in violence in a way that is responsive to local need and context’.

The study was commissioned to synthesise learning about the design, implementation and effectiveness of place-based approaches. As well as informing our own place-based work (find out more about this below), we hope it will be of interest to others working on place-based work, especially those working to reduce youth violence.

What did we do?

The evidence review was led by a research consortium consisting of the Centre for Evidence and Implementation, Monash University and the Violence Research Centre at the University of Cambridge. It brings together three components:

  1. Review of models and implementation – A systematic, narrative synthesis of literature describing the theories and logic behind models of PBAs targeting youth violence and their implementation.
  2. Review of evidence of impact – A systematic review of evidence about the impacts of PBAs on youth violence.
  3. Analysis of England PBAs – Mapping and analysis of examples of UK-based PBAs addressing youth violence or linked issues.

Alongside this, we also commissioned the Centre for Evidence and Implementation to review approaches to evaluating PBAs.

What did we find and recommend?

The review summarises an impressive body of evidence. Some of the main highlights from the findings and recommendations include:

  • The local context matters the involvement of local partners and communities was seen as critical to the success of PBAs. For many PBAs, selecting activities began by identifying and prioritising local needs through analysis of local data and through local consultation.
  • The importance of public health approaches most PBAs reviewed aligned with a public health approach to violence reduction, simultaneously addressing multiple factors that can influence a person’s likelihood of becoming involved in crime and violence (e.g. factors at the individual, family, school, and neighbourhood levels). The review found that the most effective PBAs involved secondary and tertiary prevention (i.e. targeted interventions that work with children who are vulnerable to or are already involved in crime and violence), with some combining this with primary prevention aimed at the broader population of young people.
  • Ensuring clarity of outcomes, activities, and mechanisms of change one of the striking features of PBAs reviewed is their diversity, which reflects different theoretical underpinnings and their responsiveness to local context. As a result, there is no one single theory of change for all PBAs to reducing youth violence. The review recommends that a theory of change for PBAs should include details of the intended outcomes, the planned activities, details of how the readiness for place-based working will be built and hypothesised mechanisms for change.
  • Make the use of data and evidence central – this means combining different forms of data, including local data about violence and needs, insights and experiences of local people, evidence about what has worked in previous PBAs, and evidence about effective approaches for a targeted set of outcomes.
  • Prioritise rigorous evaluation, learning systems and data infrastructure – this means using robust approaches to measure impact and monitor implementation. Although PBAs involve intensive long-term investment, the review found relatively few rigorous evaluations of effectiveness that would allow an assessment of the merits of this investment. The review also recommends that the complexity and emergent nature of work involved in PBAs would be supported by a culture of learning and evidence use, and assessment and measurement of the effectiveness of implementation and associated strategies would be valuable to those involved in their design and delivery and to the field more generally.

Download the reviews

If you’re interested in finding out more, you can download the full reviews below.

Find out more about our place-based work

  • Place-based grant round

    Grant:Agency Collaboration Fund

    Through our Agency Collaboration Fund we want to find out how agencies can better share data, power and information to prevent children from becoming involved in violence.
  • Place-based grant round

    Grant:Neighbourhood Fund

    The Neighbourhood Fund will test different models and approaches to community engagement to better understand how, where and why it can keep children safe from involvement in violence.

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